The deadline for submitting applications for IdeaLab workshops expired on 30 November 2019. All applications sent after this date will not be accepted.

The National Centre for Research and Development
as Programme Operator of Programme ‘Applied Research’
implemented under the EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021

invites to propose candidates for participation in the IdeaLab workshop

‘Cities for the future: services and solutions’

The National Centre for Research and Development invites you to propose candidates for participation in the IdeaLab workshop financed from the European Economic Area and Norwegian Financial Mechanism, which will be held in Otwock, Mazovian Voivodeship (close to Warsaw), Poland from 2 to 6 March 2020. The goal of the workshop is to develop ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research project ideas for services and solutions for the cities in 2040. The IdeaLab workshop is part of the Programme ‘Applied Research’ operated by the National Centre for Research and Development under the EEA and Norway Grants, and is prepared in cooperation with the Research Council of Norway.

What is the topic of the IdeaLab workshop?

Cities for the future: services and solutions

The objective of this workshop will be to encourage participants to think outside the box about solutions, services and technologies aimed at organising cities and urban areas as good places to live and work in 2040. The event will provide an unconventional space for experts from a variety of backgrounds to meet and develop new ideas that support cities of the future in addressing unforeseen challenges bound to arise.


Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – live in cities today and 5 billion people are projected to live in cities in the nearest future. There are numerous challenges awaiting the cities of tomorrow. Cities need to react to: demographic trends, social inequality, climate change, environmental pollution (including air pollution), increasing energy consumption, mobility issues, carbon emissions and many other challenges. In a globalised world the problems of cities have no borders and no nationality. Therefore, the multidisciplinary research solutions for future cities developed by participants from Poland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will be supported within the Programme.

According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the nearest future the cities should become safe, inclusive, sustainable and resilient. How can our cities become smarter in addressing the needs of all citizens?

We believe that some of the challenges of the cities of tomorrow can be addressed by technologies of the future. To secure societal responsible solutions crucial for the future cities, technologies should be developed in interaction with inhabitants and users.

Research challenges

New solutions and services for a better quality of life of inhabitants of urban areas - examples of important perspectives:

  • Human interaction with machines

Digital transformation and usage of key enabling technologies can reinforce the transition of cities. Inhabitants and users of the cities of tomorrow will need to use innovative technologies in their daily life and interact with them. How can we ensure that artificial intelligence is safe, user-driven and free from unintended discrimination? How can technologies of the future serve cities of the future?

  • Independence from big ICT companies

IT services provided by global corporations (e.g. search engines, clouds, social networks) have become inevitable parts of our life. We can assume that cities of the future will be more and more dependent on ICT technologies (usage of big data, Internet of Things, etc.). What would happen if the global providers of IT services withdrew from Europe? How can we make the cities and inhabitants of the future cities less dependent on global corporations, IT monopolists? How can we ensure the security and safety of the data used by the smart city?

  • Encouraging democratic engagement in the future city

The future city needs to be managed together with inhabitants and other stakeholders. How can the tools and solutions support the policy-making in an innovative city? What can be done to include various actors in the decision-making process and address needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and elderly people? How can information and communication solutions and other technologies help in encouraging democratic engagement of the future city?

  • Green and blue city of the future

Currently, green buildings or hydroponic farming in cities is a trend. Is there in the city of tomorrow still place for green spaces available and accessible for all? How can we ensure urban biodiversity and sustainability of cities? Can modern tools and technologies help making urban areas greener and more liveable?
Nowadays, water scarcity is a serious problem and it will become even more essential in the future due to rising demand for water and insufficient supply. Cities of tomorrow need to adapt to climate change, such as altered weather-patterns (including droughts or floods). How can cities manage water resources effectively? How can they establish connection and interaction between blue and green assets?

The above-mentioned research challenges are examples of relevant project ideas to be developed in the workshop; they are not obligatory. Participants are also welcome to explore other important perspectives for addressing needs of inhabitants of the future cities.

  • Intended results

In the workshop we would like to focus on Polish, Norwegian, Icelandic and/or Liechtenstein cities. Participants can develop ideas for one specific city or focus on more universal solutions for cities from the above-mentioned countries.

Projects ideas which generate new solutions, services, products or processes for the future cities and its inhabitants are very welcome. Projects may include, e.g., research aiming at gaining new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services, prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validating new products, processes or services. However, as the time frame of the project ideas is 2040, we do not expect that the project outcomes will be ready to use (or commercialised) directly after the project end.

Please note that the project needs to include applied research and/or experimental development. Basic research (e.g. theoretical studies on the subject) may only be a minor part of the project.

Who can apply?

We invite legal entities (public or private entities, commercial or non-commercial as well as non-governmental organisations, including research organisation and enterprises) from Poland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein to propose candidates for the IdeaLab workshop.

Successful candidate should:

  • have at least a master’s degree or equivalent;
  • be proposed by a legal entity from Poland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein to participate in the workshop;
  • is able to effectively communicate in English (similar level to B2 or higher), since the workshop will be held in English (we do not require a certificate);
  • be ready to participate in the IdeaLab workshop in Poland for the whole week of 2-6 March 2020.

Additionally she/he should:

  • be interested in carrying out an applied research project concerning solutions and services for cities of the future and involving specialists from various fields;
  • be prepared to develop and implement a research project with individuals she/he may not know;
  • enjoy stepping outside his/her area of expertise or interest, enjoy creative activity, think innovatively, be keen on team work and have good communication skills;
  • be interested in the innovative formula of the IdeaLab workshop.

We invite specialists from various fields (e.g. urban planning & governance, ecology, ICT, social science, humanities, technologies and other) to participate in the workshop. The list of areas is open-ended. If your profession is not on the list, but you feel that your knowledge and experience can help to shape cities for the future, you are invited to submit your application!

What is the IdeaLab workshop?

The crucial element of the method is an interactive and intensive 5-day workshop involving approx. 30 participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds and a team of external experts (mentors and the director) and stakeholders that is organised in order to drive new approaches to address research challenges on a specific topic.

The aim of the workshop is to prepare project pre-proposals by the participants. It should be noted that participation in the IdeaLab workshop does not guarantee the project funding. Research pre-proposals need to be elaborated after the IdeaLab workshop into full proposal and submitted during the call for full proposals in order to apply for funding. The call for full proposals will be opened for all eligible entities¹, however only research ideas developed during the IdeaLab workshop, that receive positive assessment of the Panel of Experts, can undergo successfully the eligibility check. The budget for funding projects in the call for full proposals is EUR 6,651,016. The minimum grant amount is EUR 500,000 and the maximum amount is EUR 6,651,016. NCBR aims to fund 3 to 6 research projects

Who will cover the costs?

The National Centre for Research and Development will cover the cost of the hotel accommodation with breakfasts, lunches and dinners during the workshop. Participation is free of charge for participants, since the workshop is co-financed from the EEA and Norway Grants.
Participants must arrange for financing from their institutions to cover the costs of travel from their country of origin/city of origin to the workshop venue and back.
The National Centre for Research and Development can reimburse the costs of travel and commuting (including the costs incurred from the place of residence and back) for participants selected by the Panel of Experts to take part in the workshop. Detailed information about the reimbursement of the costs of travel will be provided to the workshop participants.

How to apply?

To apply for participation in the IdeaLab workshop, please send:

a) the participant’s application form

b) the participant’s CV in English

c) the participant’s statement

d) the entity’s statement

The participant’s application is submitted only by e-mail to The application deadline is 30 November 2019 at 16.00 CET.

The entity can propose more than one candidate, however to ensure interdisciplinarity of participants applicants from the same institution/faculty/research unit /research team etc. will have lower chances to be selected for the IdeaLab workshop.

Participants will be selected by the international Panel of Experts based on their individual qualifications. Participants shall be selected and informed about the results in February 2020.

For more information please read:

1) The IdeaLab Workshop Guideline
a. participant’s application form
b. participant’s statement
c. the entity’s statement
2) the Guide for evaluators – the Participant selection
3) the Guide for evaluators – the assessment of project ideas

We encourage you to read the training materials from the Info days:

Contact person:
The National Centre for Research and Development – Programme Operator

Ms Ewelina Wildner

Phone +48 22 39 07 123
e-mail address:; 

The timeframe for answering e-mail queries is 3 working days.

¹ - Research organisations, as defined in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty and as stipulated in the Polish Law on Higher Education and Science and in the Act on the National Centre for Research and Development, established as a legal person in Poland
- Enterprises, as defined in the Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty, established in Poland