Detroit, Venice & Varanasi Hosting Toyota Mobility Sustainable Cities Challenge

Venice, Detroit and Varanasi have been selected to host innovation challenges as part of the Toyota Mobility Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Challenge. The goal of the $9 million global initiative is to help cities accelerate toward sustainable mobility, fostering healthier and safer urban environments while enhancing people’s ability to commute, work, study, and access services. The cities, located in Italy, the United States and India, were chosen from a shortlist of 10 cities announced in November 2023.

Over 150 cities from 46 countries entered the Challenge after the call to cities was first launched in June 2023 and over the last months, the list was narrowed to 10 and now 3 cities. The City Challenges will be launched for innovator entry over the next two months, inviting global innovators to access a share of $3 million in funding per city to demonstrate their solutions.

Three Selected Host Cities

Venice, Veneto, Italy

Launching 11th June 2024 – Venice is often pictured solely as a historic city famous for its intricate network of canals. Nevertheless, the majority of the population lives and works in the mainland suburbs such as Mestre, Marghera and other motorized islands, which serve as a crucial transportation hub connecting Venice to the mainland and beyond.

With a mobility landscape that is truly multi-modal, including land and water transport, the city has invested significantly in sustainable mobility infrastructure and services. In the Venice City Challenge, the city seeks innovative solutions that shift behavior, encouraging an increased use and adoption of existing sustainable transport modes.

I wish to thank the Toyota Mobility Foundation for choosing Venice: it is a recognition of the path we have taken to make the city’s mobility increasingly sustainable, in a complex territory where water and land are integrated, with a plurality of different means of transport. Participating in this international-level Challenge will allow us to enhance the actions already put in place, such as the significant extension of the bike lane network, implementing hydrogen and electric local public transport, introducing bike-sharing and car-sharing services, setting up the “smart control room” for more orderly flow management, as well as offering new stimuli on how citizens, with their own behaviour, can be protagonists of this change.

Morris Ceron, Director General at the City of Venice

The Venice City Challenge will launch on Tuesday, 11th June 2024.

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Launching on 29th May 2024 – Known worldwide as the ‘Motor City,’ Detroit is working to show the world that sustainable mobility is part of what makes this ‘Motor’ move by seeking innovators who can help the City deploy clean and cost-effective mobility solutions as part of this transition.

The Challenge is focused on Eastern Market, ​​​​the nation’s largest food production and distribution center, where a growing residential and commercial presence means that the City wants to explore solutions that help preserve the health and well-being of the Eastern Market community as it carries through with expansion plans. More specifically, the Detroit City Challenge will seek solutions that reduce fossil fuel use and cut costs of freight operations in the Eastern Market, by increasing efficiencies and unlocking opportunities for clean freight technologies.

We’re excited and honoured to be one of just three cities in the world selected for the Sustainable Cities Challenge. As the only city chosen in the western hemisphere, Detroit represents over one hundred years of world-renowned innovations in transportation. As Detroit continues to grow, we want to learn how to address the ways that freight and industry can be more sustainable, while also supporting the economy in thriving areas such as our Eastern Market – especially in very cold conditions. We look forward to building out the groundwork for this project and what the next stage brings!

Tim Slusser, Chief of the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation

The Detroit City Challenge will launch on Wednesday, 29th May 2024.

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Launching in late June 2024 – Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India and is the “spiritual capital” of India. A revered pilgrimage destination, the city sees visitors from across India as well as abroad. This influx of visitors, while vital to strengthening the city’s tapestry of faith and culture, is leading to increased concerns about safety and crowding. The Varanasi City Challenge aims to generate innovative, data-driven solutions incorporating elements of technology and design that make crowded areas of Varanasi’s old city (Kashi) safer and more accessible for religious tourists and local residents alike including vulnerable members of the population.

Participating in the Toyota Mobility Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Challenge presents an exciting prospect for Varanasi. This initiative offers us a valuable chance to explore technical and design-related avenues for enhancing mobility within our city, benefiting both our residents and the growing influx of tourists. By collaborating with innovative minds, we aim to bolster Varanasi’s reputation as a premier global tourist destination. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to work closely with TMF, their partners, and experts to achieve this goal.

Akshat Verma, IAS, Municipal Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer, Varanasi Municipal Corporation/Varanasi Smart City

The Varanasi City Challenge will launch in late June 2024.