The Cities Challenge is a competition that spurs cities to compete to be the most innovative and entrepreneurial. Up until last year, Cities Challenge was an exclusively Italian competition, but GEN Georgia has now introduced the challenge in their country.
We spoke with Tinatin Gholadze, the Managing Director of GEN Georgia, to see what her impressions of the first year of running the Challenge were like.
Hi Tinatin, thanks for talking to us today! How did you first hear about the Cities Challenge?
I first heard about the Cities Challenge during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, when I was attending a presentation. It was exciting, we wanted to do something innovative and international for our region and we decided to try. It was the first time that Cities Challenge had ever been done in another country.
Was setting up the Challenge in Georgia easy?
It was a quite intense process, because it was the first time as you mentioned. Also we wanted to connect this to a Global Entrepreneurship Week project, and we didn't have a lot of time. Finally we agreed that we would make a short version. And so we launched it during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
How many cities took part?
It was five: Dusheti, Mtsketa, Bolnisi, Gori, and Khulo. The representatives presented their pitches in front of the audience and judges during Global Entrepreneurship Week Georgia on November 19, 2019, and the judges were representatives of GEN Georgia, Business Accelerator Spark (from Tbilisi City Hall) and Business and Technology University.
And who won?
Based on the pitches, the winner of the City Challenge Georgia 2019 was Anna Burduli, representative of Dusheti municipality. The winning project aimed to develop Dusheti municipality as a regional hub for innovations related to tourism, as the region has a lot of resources, e.g environmental, water and other. The award was the opportunity to attend the Cities Challenge final event in Rome, but then of course it was the COVID period, so this trip was cancelled.
What impact do you hope that Cities Challenge will have?
I think that if we develop this project further, it will force municipalities to think creatively, to become more creative. Because they have to compete with other municipalities, they try to do their best and to come up with a better strategy, and this kind of open competition can be very effective for the country.
Last year was the pilot – do you hope that this year there will be more cities taking part?
Yes, of course. We want to connect this competition with the Global Entrepreneurship Week and I think it would be really useful for our country to present innovative strategies of locals, connect them with Italian counterparts and get them to think more about innovation. We hope that we can do it in a better way, to involve more municipalities and more cities.
What do you think was the main challenge that you faced when organising the competition?
First of all the translation of all these materials, because there was actually a lot! But META did a really good job, so you really have everything in detail, every document, every Excel file… Then we tried to do it in another way, how to present it to municipalities because they are a little bit lazy to fill out large forms.
So you had to adapt it a little bit?
Yes, to make it easier. *laughs*
What did the municipalities think, the cities who were taking part?
They liked it, especially the people from organisations from regional areas. They like international networking opportunities and they were excited that they have an opportunity to win the title of the Most Innovative City. They liked this title!
Are you planning on organising a second round for 2020?
Yes why not? But I think not during Global Entrepreneurship Week because last year we had very little time for the Cities Challenge and if we do it after the Global Entrepreneurship Week we can have more time to promote it more.