SynchroniCity Open Call

Frequently Asked Questions



  1. General
  2. Eligibility
  3. Cities
  4. Themes/Challenges
  5. Submission
  6. Evaluation
  7. Costs, Payment, and legal


1.      General


When does the SynchroniCity Open Call open?

It opens on the 1st June at 17:00 CEST (Brussels time)


When does the SynchroniCity Open Call close?

It closes on the 30th September 2018 at 17:00 CEST (Brussels time)


Where can I find more details about the Open Call, e.g. evaluation criteria, themes AND challenges, etc?

All the detailed information about the open call can be found on SynchroniCity website. If you are an SME or a large business, please download and read all the documentation in the Open Call Toolkit for SMEs and Large Businesses. If you are a city, please download and read all the documentation available in the Open Call Toolkit for New Cities.


Is there further documentation with the description of the challenges?

You can find more information about the challenges in the Open Call Guide for Applicants which is part of the Open Call Toolkit for SMEs and Large Businesses (to download if you are an SME or large business) and the Open Call Toolkit for New Cities (to download if you are a city).

If applicants feel that their solution does not fit any of the open call challenges, they can also apply to the open challenge. Note that in case applicants choose the open challenge, they will need to demonstrate that they are meeting a real need of the cities where they choose to pilot in. To find out more about what the real needs of the Core Pilot cities, refer to the Cities Cards which are available as an annexe of the Open Call SynchroniCity framework document or directly in this link.


What is the total budget available for projects?

The total budget available is EUR 3 million. We expect to fund between 10-25 projects.


Is there a limit to the nUmber of applications I can submit?

There is no limit to the number of applications. However, only one application per SME/Pilot Group will be funded.

In case two or more projects will be selected for the same SME/Pilot Group, then the one with the higher score will be funded. In case of the same score among two/more projects, then this will be agreed with the SynchroniCity Open Call Evaluation Committee.


How long Must a pilot per city last?  6 months? Or can it vary from city to city if the piloting period in total will be 6 months?

The piloting period within these 6 months could vary from one city to the other. However, pilots must guarantee that they prove the replicability, interoperability and reusability of their solution, independently on how long they test in on in each of the cities.

It may happen that what applicants estimated to last for 2 month on the first city may take much longer because of unexpected issues like components not being fully ready. Therefore, ideally, the pilots should happen at the same time but this is not a strict requirement.

Note that the pilots may extend beyond the 6 months at any time, with separate funding, as long as reporting follows the SynchroniCity requirements.


If you like to work with users within a city, who is the responsible for recruiting the users?

This has to be discussed with the cities (core and new) and will be different in a case by case. This could be discussed directly with the Core Pilot Cities during the Clinics that are being organised. To find out more about the Clinics, visit our events page in our website.


What is considered scale? What is the best scenario for deployment?

With SynchroniCity we are trying to demonstrate that we can have a common and simple technical ground, that serve both the cities and the businesses, in a way that is also easy to roll out several services across different sectors. There are different ways where you can demonstrate scale. One of the ways through which we as a project will demonstrate scale is providing solutions across domains (i.e. mobility, air quality) but building them based on the same fundamental mechanisms.

For the pilots, you should demonstrate two things, you should demonstrate mainstream scale. Scale means that you can work in several cities. It can also mean that you can go from one corner of a city to cover the entire municipality. It could be that you can go beyond EU or that you reach millions of people. It could mean that you have thousands of devices. Each pilot should have a clear vision of how we spread this particular service or full stack solution across i.e. cities, geographies, devices. There are many approaches to achieve this and it is up to you to choose your strategy.

The best scenario is that you manage to fulfil some of the objectives that we are trying to reach which is to test the interoperability and replicability of your solution. This can take many shapes and forms. Because of the replicability aspect, this is why we are asking you to pilot your solution and prove replicability in at least 2 cities, but preferably more cities, this means that your solution can be easily scaled in several cities. What you propose should be the right number of cities that allows you to do something feasible. Solutions can be very different. Maybe one solution needs to deploy few sensors or other pieces of infrastructure, to prove their technology, others will need to deploy many more. It is really up to the applicants to demonstrate what is necessary for them to showcase that they demonstrate replicability, scalability and interoperability of their solution.


How can applicants form Pilot Groups? Is SynchroniCity going to support applicants to find partners?

The SynchroniCity project will be neutral and won’t actively seek to create partnerships between potential applicants. For this reason, a few channels to facilitate the establishment of partnerships between potential applicants have been created and will be available on the SynchroniCity website soon. The match-making platform will be available here.  Besides the online match-making platform, applicants can attend clinics and other events that are being organized by the Core Pilot Cities. More information about the clinics can be found here.

To find partners you can also reach out to stakeholders in your ecosystem or European wide ecosystem. Enterprise Europe Network can be a useful source to help you find partners. You can learn more here.

Moreover, SynchroniCity is built around the Open and Agile Smart Cities initiative, so there will be a good place to look for partners. OASC organises a series of events and activities where you could potentially identify partners. You can find out more about upcoming events and activities here.



2.      Eligibility


Can I apply?

IoT enabled SMEs or start-ups[1] that have already demonstrated their solution in a relevant environment (TRL ≥ 6).  SMEs and start-ups can apply alone or in a Pilot Group (Consortium).

Cities and large businesses can apply in a Pilot Group led by an SME/start-up that can provide an IoT data-enabled application or a full stack solution.

Only SMEs, cities and large businesses legally established in an EU-28 or from a H2020 associated countries are eligible for funding.


What type of SME is the SynchroniCity Open Call targeting?

Synchronicity is looking for innovative firms – based in the EU-28 or in countries associated to Horizon 2020. SMEs must be matured and have already tested their solutions in a relevant environment. Additionally, they must have potential to develop, grow and have a European or international impact.


Is there a minimum number of years your company has to exist to be considered as an SME?

No, there isn’t a minimum number. However, we will not fund early-stage solutions. We will fund projects that are able to reach scale.


Can I apply as a single entity?

Yes, if you are an SME and you can provide a mature IoT data-enabled application or a full stack solution (infrastructure + middleware + application). Note that only SMEs established in the EU or a country associated to Horizon 2020 are eligible for funding.


I am an SME providing IoT infrastructure, can I apply?

Yes, you can apply but only as a member of a Pilot Group.


Is it better to apply as a single entity or as a Pilot Group?

There is no best option. It is up to you to define how the project could be better implemented based on the parameters you will be evaluated for (excellence, impact, feasibility and sustainability).

However, evaluators may positively consider the incorporation of a new city in your Pilot Group.


Can an SME apply for more than one project?

There are no limits to the number of applications per organisation (SMEs, cities and large businesses), but only one will be funded.


Is it possible for a start-up (without balance sheet) to apply?

Start-ups are not excluded. However, the SynchroniCity Open Call will not fund early-stage ideas. The start-up should show that its product has already been demonstrated in a relevant environment.


Are small towns eligible to apply for the Open Call? Is there an ideal size of the cities where applicants should deploy their solutions?

Cities of any size are welcome to apply if they have an IoT platform and they are willing to adopt SynchroniCity minimum interoperability framework, so the SME lead applicant can deploy and replicate its solution there and in other Core Pilot Cities.

Note that one of the goals of the SynchroniCity open call is to reach scale. Demonstrating scale only in very small towns may be difficult. Therefore, a combination of small and large cities would be ideal so that SMEs can demonstrate that their solution works in all kinds of environments.


Are SMEs that are funded in another H2020 projects eligible for funding?

Yes, as long as the grant is not used to fund the same project. Also, note that applicants cannot use other EU funding as co-funding. We recommend applicants to carefully read the funding rules of the other EU funding streams which they have previously received funding before applying for SynchroniCity.


Can Universities apply as part of a Pilot Group?

Universities can potentially apply as part of a Pilot Group, but they are not eligible to receive funding.


Do I need a letter of support from all cities?

You only need a letter of support from each new city you bring as part of a Pilot Group. Core Pilot Cities do not need to provide letters of support.



3.       Cities


What are the Core Open Call Pilot Cities?

Antwerp, Carouge, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Manchester, Milan, Porto, and Santander.


Must Core Pilot Cities be included in the Pilot Group?

Core Pilot Cities do not need to be included in the Pilot Group. When completing the online application form, applicants will be given the option to select the Core Pilot Cities where they would like to pilot their solutions in.


Do I need to engage with Core Pilot Cities during the application phase to submit a proposal?

No. When completing the online application form, applicants will be given the option to select the Core Pilot Cities where they would like to pilot their solutions in.

Note that you will need to pilot your solution in at least 2 cities. If you are bringing a new city as a member of your Pilot Group, the new city (not the Core Pilot Cities) will need to provide you with a letter of support.


Can cities from all over the world apply?

Yes, cities from all over the world can apply in. However, only cities from the EU and H2020 associated countries will be eligible for funding. Note that cities can not apply alone.


Can piloting cities be in the same country?



Is there a template for the letter of support that new cities need to provide to Pilot Groups?

No, there is no template.


Is it possible to pilot in Mexico or in Korea?

The Mexico and Korean cities in our SynchroniCity Consortia are not Open Call Pilot Cities.

However, if applicants have direct contact with these cities in the consortium or other cities in South Korea and Mexico and they would like to be part of their Pilot Group, then they can participate. However, because these cities are not from EU or H2020 associated countries, the cities will not be eligible to receive funding.


What is the process to apply with a city that is a member of OASC, but is not part of the Core Pilot Cities?

Cities that are part of the OASC are eligible to apply, but they must apply as part of a Pilot Group which is always led by an SME Lead Applicant. This OASC city must commit to adopting the Synchronicity minimum interoperability points. The city must also provide the Pilot Group with a letter of support which must be uploaded during the application. Note that all OASC cities are eligible to apply. However, only OASC cities from the EU and H2020 associated countries are eligible for funding.


What’s the process to include a new city?

New cities must always be part of a Pilot Group. New cities must share the principles of the Open and Agile Smart Cities Network (OASC) and be willing to adopt the SynchroniCity reference architecture during the implementation phase of the pilot project. These cities need to provide a letter of support to the Pilot Group.

To find a city that is interested in applying to SynchroniCity, you may use the support tools provided by SynchroniCity via the website.  You can also attend events or reach out to OASC.



4.      Themes/Challenges


My idea does not fit into any challenge. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can apply for the Open Theme/Challenge. However, you need to be able to demonstrate that the challenge that you are trying to tackle is a real need in all the pilot cities you selected to pilot your project in.


Can I select more than one theme (e.g. sustainable mobility and environment and wellbeing) because there might be some overlap in themes?

Applicants will need to choose only one theme per application. However, applicants can send several applications (with different thematic areas) but only one will be funded.

Applicants should choose the challenge they feel is more relevant. Applications will be selected based on the score and evaluation criteria and not on the theme. The only added condition is that,  SynchroniCity will try to get at least one application for every theme as long as they score at least 14/20. And the Open Call challenge will not account for more than 20% of the winning proposals.



5.      Submission


Does SynchroniCity offer a pre-proposal check?

The SynchroniCity team will not assess any applications prior to their submission. We are happy to answer general questions about the scope and format of the Open Call via forum, through the helpdesk email if the question is private, or at any of our launch events, online webinars and clinics;  but we cannot make any statement about the feasibility or value of a proposal.


Can I submit documents that are not in English?

Unfortunately, not. We need to be able to assess your application and we cannot manage translations from other languages.



6.      Evaluation


How many experts will review my application?

All applications will be evaluated by three independent experts: one expert will look at the technical aspects of your application, followed by a city perspective and finally from a commercial viability perspective.


Is there any threshold for each evaluation criteria?

No. However, the technical feasibility is a very key aspect of the evaluation. In case the project is not technically feasible, it will not be funded. There is an overall threshold of 14 points, therefore we will only look at the overall score.



7.      Costs, Payment, and legal


Is there a minimum budget to apply for funding?

No. SynchroniCity Open Call considers all proposals requesting a contribution up to €100,000 for single entities; up to €200.000 for Pilot Groups of 2 organisations; up to €300.000 for Pilot Groups of 3 organisations or more.


Will the projects be entirely funded by the Open Call?

The SynchroniCity Open Call will co-fund projects up to 80% of the total individual budget of each project. The remaining 20% will need to be provided by applicants either as in-kind support or by bringing funding to the project. Note that funding to cities and large businesses is limited to €60,000 per project.


Does the funding available for each project (€100k/200k/300k) apply to the grant funding that single entities or pilot groups can receive or to the overall project costs?

The amounts €100k/200k/300k refer to the maximum grant the proposal will be able to access. The total project costs can exceed these amounts. Applicants can find out more about the details of the distribution of the budget by each applicant (either applying alone or in a Pilot Group in the budget template which is available in the Open Call toolkit for applicants. In this document, there is a sheet dedicated to explaining different scenarios of how you applicants may consider their budgets for the open call. You will only get up to €100k if you apply as a single applicant, your Pilot Group will be able to get up to  €200k if you apply in a Pilot Group (=consortium) of 2 entities or €300k if you apply in a Pilot Group of 3 or more. Cities and large businesses can receive a maximum of €60k.


Is there any max sum for subcontracting?

There isn’t a cap on the subcontracted amount, However, subcontracting may cover only a limited part of the activity.  Costs which are higher than 40% of the project budget will not be looked at positively by the jury.


Can a university or research unit be as a subcontractor?

The call is not intended to be for Universities, although they may act as a subcontractor if their activity is justified and makes sense for the solution proposed.


Do successful applicants sign the SynchroniCity grant agreement? How does contracting work?

The selected applicants will need to sign a Pilot Agreement with Future Cities Catapult.  In the case of Pilot Groups, we expect that the partners will have a collaboration/consortium agreement in place before signing the Pilot Agreement with Future Cities Catapult. As an annex of the Pilot Agreement, there will be a Sharing Agreement which successful applicants will need to sign with all cities where they will be piloting in. This agreement will be the basis of the data and assets sharing between these parties. In the Open Call Toolkit for applicants, you can download a template of the Pilot Agreement.


If a Pilot Group is comprised of one SME and two cities, is it still eligible to apply for € 300,000?

Yes, the Pilot Group can apply for up to € 300,000K, but the cities will receive a maximum of € 60,000 each.


Is the budget of € 60,000 only for allowing the city to become compliant with SynchroniCity?

No, the € 60,000 can cover other types of costs, such as travel, staff costs, among others. Note that large infrastructure costs will not be covered by the grant. You can find out more about the eligible and ineligible costs in the Open Call Toolkit for New Cities.


Are hardware costs eligible for funding?

Small purchases of hardware are eligible (i.e. small number of sensors). However, we won’t fund infrastructure costs (i.e. a large number of sensors). In the Guide for Applicants, you are able to find all eligible and ineligible costs. Hardware is referred to as material costs in the guide.



8.      Technical


Will I access data from multiple cities from a single-entry point?

No, you will access data from each city separately.


Is it compulsory to use FIWARE solutions? Will their use be free of charge?

FIWARE is one of the solutions that we provide, but its use is not compulsory. Applicants can use any type of technology. For example, you can use any gateway for the IoT management or you can use other context management system. You can also use context brokers that are compliant with the specifications.

Most of the FIWARE components are free to use. However, the SynchroniCity project doesn’t offer the execution environment to deploy the services. We provide a cloud environment that is a sandbox to test the services. However, the applicant should provide the specific deployment environment that required to deploy specific services of the application.


What are the differences between the SyncroniCity and the Organicity technical platforms?

OrganiCity was the first reference implementation of the Open & Agile Smart Cities mechanisms. SynchroniCity has learnt from that implementation, but it is much more flexible. It has evolved and many of the constraints of the OrganiCity setup and tools do not exist. It is also a sign that the entire field has evolved is much more agile. There is a reference implementation based on OneM2M and it is one mainstream. Both have the same ambition, but it is much more usable.


Does the solution need to use existing data sources of the SynchroniCity’s Core pilot cities?

Yes, this one of the objectives of the open call to use and take advantage of existing data sources.

Make sure that you know what data is available from the Core Pilot Cities. We will update the list of datasets available on the website periodically.  Currently we have a number of datasets available, however, we will increase this number in the coming weeks.

Note that it will be also possible for applicants to get access to new information that is offered by the city that is not strictly provided by the municipality. This data can be harmonised in terms of SynchroniCity data models and accessed through the SynchroniCity APIs or can be part of the application of the services.


How does SynchronCity define IoT? What typologies of data are you expecting the applicants to use in the proposal?

We have no specific restrictions on the data typology. The data should be related to the specific domain (challenges) of the open call. Applicants are welcome to bring other types of data that are not related to the challenges in the open challenge of the open call. In terms of IoT devices, there are no specific restrictions as well. The only requirement is that the data is compliant with SynchroniCity data models and the APIs in the SynchroniCity framework.


Will there be a marketplace where applicants can be in dialogue with other potential partners?

With regards to the SynchroniCity marketplace, the idea is to provide a marketplace that has two main elements:

The first is the data marketplace where all the datasets from the cities that are relevant to the project fall in this catalogue. Applicants will be able to search and access the datasets. Some datasets will be open source and free to use others will be accessible after the payment of a license fee.

The second is the IoT product/service marketplace. The latter has the goal of allowing different stakeholder in the IoT and city ecosystem to engage. This includes cities, SMEs, technology providers, IoT device manufacturers that that are compliant with the Synchronicity framework. The ambition

However, the goal of the marketplace is not to be a match-making tool for the open call. To find a partner for the open call, you can rely on their tools provided by SynchroniCity such as the website and specific events. Please refer to the specific question on how to find a partner in this FAQ.


If a potential applicant has a technology that is not built on an open API are they not eligible to apply for SynchroniCity?

No, SynchroniCity is a project where interoperability and integration are very relevant. Therefore, applicants can have their existing products/services/applications, but the idea is that their product can be integrated with the SynchroniCity APIs, data models and using Synchronicity capabilities. It is not necessary to provide anything open source.

In fact, we don’t enforce any licenses. What we do as SynchroniCity is to encourage free license, open software and data sharing through the marketplace. What we do enforce is that the minimum interoperability mechanisms are maintained. We leave the implementation completely to the supply and demand completely to the market.


What is FIREWARE and why is it relevant for SynchroniCity?

FIREWARE initiative started a few years ago founded by the European Commission. It is an ecosystem which provides a catalogue of open components in various domains, including IoT, cloud, data visualization, among others. For SynchronCity, FIREWARE is relevant in the sense that some of the components for the reference implementation are based on FIREWARE. But it is not limited to this, it is possible for applicants to use any type of technology.



[1] For-profit SMEs’ means micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, as defined in Commission

Recommendation 2003/361/EC, that are not ‘non-profit legal entities’ as defined in Article 2 of the Rules for

Participation and Dissemination (‘legal entity which by its legal form is non-profit-making or which has a

legal or statutory obligation not to distribute profits to its shareholders or individual members’).