2023- Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Now Accepting Proposals for Cleantech Projects

April 24, 2023, 11:04am EDT

The 2023 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Now Accepting Proposals for Cleantech Projects

The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (the Partnership) is now accepting proposals for the 2023 Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart). Georgia Smart is a competitive community-research assistance program that provides funding and technical assistance to local governments throughout the state. Georgia Smart communities are empowered to envision, explore, and plan for a smart future while gaining access to a breadth of technical resources in the form of researchers from Georgia Tech and other higher education institutions, Georgia Smart partners and program management, and Smart Community Corps (SCC) participants. The program helps cities, counties, and community improvement districts (CIDs) bridge technical expertise and local assets to expand smart technologies across their communities.

Georgia Smart is open to applications from local governments of any size and research teams from any higher education institution within the state of Georgia. Researchers from institutions or sister cities in neighboring states, as well as local non-profit community partners, can also be part of teams and receive funding for their role in the project, Successful proposals will receive one research grant per community-researcher team for up to $100,000. In addition to the typical award for research teams, this year’s Georgia Smart has two additional opportunities. Teams can receive an additional $10,000 add-on grant from the Georgia Foundation for Public Education for any project that partners with a K-12 public school system. Teams can also apply to host 2 SCC summer interns to assist with the project for Summer 2024 if they are willing to provide SCC with matching funding to cover one of the interns’ stipends.

Georgia Smart has supported over 30 projects since its inception in 2018. Several communities have successfully leveraged the program to explore the feasibility of innovative ideas at low risk, foster relationships with universities to solve complex civic problems, develop unique partnerships with other smart communities, ensure community engagement with and awareness of smart technologies in their city, and access additional funding and investment opportunities for additional smart projects. For example, Spalding County was awarded a grant in 2021 to identify methods and test methods of expanding broadcast access to households and businesses outside of internet service provider range. The county was able use the Georgia Smart project to establish a 35-mile “ring of connectivity,” bringing broadband service to underserved areas of the county through community-based assets by building infrastructure on existing water towers and similar structures. Previous Georgia Smart projects also include the City of Valdosta’s “Traffic Monitoring and Communication System to Improve Safety, Connectivity, and Efficiency” project that piloted a smart traffic management system to connect all 128 traffic signals in the city and deploying a corresponding app, TravelSafely. This project was awarded a 2022 Smart 50 Award for Mobility and received recognition as one of three finalists for the 2021 World Smart Cities Award.

The theme for 2023 Georgia Smart is clean technology, “Cleantech,” and any projects that incorporate innovative technology to reduce negative environmental impacts, increase resource use sustainability, or protect environmental assets through sustainable materials or processes in a civic context will be considered. One of the strengths of Georgia Smart is that the research is taken out of the lab and tested on the ground in the community. Potential applied research project topics can include climate change response, energy efficiency, materials science, energy infrastructure, electric mobility/adaptation, and reducing carbon emissions, amongst many others. Eligible projects must span between August 2023 and September 2024. Apply here to join the 2023 Georgia Smart cohort.

Proposals will be accepted between April 1 – June 5, 2023. A webinars will provide additional information to interested research teams on May 3, 2023 at 4:00 PM. Please email the Partnership at inclusiveinnovation@gatech.edu for any general questions or, for more in-depth program questions, please use this link to schedule a meeting with the Partnership’s Community Research Manager, Katie O’Connor, AICP.

Map of Georgia with smart communities challenges

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