‘Seoul Global Challenge 2021’ Proposes a New Paradigm to Help Solve Urban Problems

Technology challenge ongoing with 95 participants from 10 countries
A global call for R&D ideas from all over the world to reduce particulate matter in the Seoul Metropolitan Subway System.

Seoul, Korea – Seoul Global Challenge, hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and organized by the Seoul Business Agency (SBA), a marketing arm for small businesses established by SMG, is a competition of innovative ideas and technologies that invites innovators from companies, research institutes, universities, and individuals worldwide to overcome urban challenges presented by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. This global R&D-based challenge program marks its second year since it began in 2020.

Seoul Global Challenge 2021 seeks to address one of the chronic problems that most metropolitan residents encounter: particulate pollution entailed by not environment-friendly complex subway systems. This year, four topics have been identified by SBA as crucial needs to resolve the problem. They are the reduction of wear particle generation, improvement of removal efficiency, improvement of measurement technique, and the integrated management of air quality inside subway stations. Last year’s Challenge recorded a competition ratio of 10:1, and 95 teams from 10 countries: Korea, US, Canada, France, Austria, etc. submitted proposals this year. Currently, nine teams have been selected for the prototype development of high-efficiency particle collection filters, fine dust level measurement instruments in subway tunnels, and an integrated management system for air quality in subway stations.

For the selected teams, a total of USD 700,000 will be granted for six months of prototype development. After the final evaluation, USD 600,000 in prizes will be awarded. In addition, those selected teams would expect mentoring service by hi-tech savvy consultants, workspace, logistics support, and all other expenses incurred during the process from the ideation step to technology development and pilot experiment.

Besides the Technology Challenge, an Academic Challenge is also underway with the cooperation of the Korean Society for Atmospheric Environment (KOSAE), the Korean Society for Indoor Environment (KOSIE), and the Korean Association for Particle and Aerosol Research (KAPAR) to address the fundamental challenges of the city. Approximately 70 research paper abstracts on the topic of “Links between indoor and outdoor air quality in subways,” “reduction of particulate matters in subways,” and “reduction of viruses in subways” have been submitted from countries including Taiwan, Mongolia, Canada, and Malaysia. Research papers are to be submitted by September. Based on the submissions, final awardees will be selected at the Academic Conference at the end of this year.

Seoul Global Challenge distinguishes itself from other technology competitions as it supports the entire process from ideation to the development of the technology. It validates the technology by enabling competitors to conduct pilot experiments of their innovative technology on-site, thereby substantially contributing to an improved quality of life.

The winner projects of the last year’s Seoul Global Challenge on the same topic as this year, after thorough proof of concept, have been put into practice on subway systems in Seoul. It is expected that this year’s Challenge will also facilitate the development of innovative, applicable technology for the would-be winners.

Quite significant is the fact that the Seoul Global Challenge has provided an open platform that invites everyone to take part in addressing issues of a global megacity. “Seoul Global Challenge 2021 was initiated to share the concerns over urban challenges with innovators not only at the local or national levels but at the international level,” said Director Kim Seong-Min of Seoul Business Agency. “Resolving urban problems through an innovative and mutually beneficial way will present a new paradigm in a globalized world,” added him. Also, he announced that “Seoul Global Challenge will make its best efforts to prepare a foundation for finding solutions to urban problems with global innovators for not only Seoul but other cities around the world.”

More details about the Seoul Global Challenge 2021, including its project plans and a detailed schedule, can be found on the Seoul Global Challenge website.

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City: Seoul
Country: South Korea
Website: seoulglobalchallenge.sba.kr/en