Dundee International Design Challenge

Homelessness is a wickedly complex problem that, without exception, pervades societies across the globe. As a progressive 21st century city, and the UK’s first designated UNESCO City of Design, we are launching the inaugural Dundee Design Challenge to help tackle this problem head on.

We are looking for designers to respond to a call to help find a digital design solution to fundamentally improve the lives of those who must deal with homelessness on a daily basis, and consider how digital technology can be used to prevent the issue in the first place.  We want you to imagine a digital communication system that can reconnect homeless people with everyday life – with friends and family, with each other, with potential sources of help – food, financial, emotional and practical support.

The system must take into account the fact that homeless people have limited, if any, access to digital technology.



As a UNESCO City of Design, we understand the power of design to improve lives, and solve problems. We want to lead by example and show that design-led solutions can in fact change society, and make our towns and cities equitable places where everyone can live together, with a roof over their head, their basic human rights and dignity in tact.

Design and innovation don’t happen in isolation, they are the result of a shared thought process, a collaborative effort. Dundee is a prime example of the role that networks, collaboration and partnerships play in propelling a city forward. Dialogue is a key part of this design process and core to instigating change for the better. This is augmented by digital technologies enabling dialogue and collaboration both at a hyper-local and international level. Digital social innovations are now taking place around the world, on topics such as open democracy, crowd funding, opening access to data, offering new ways of making products and services. We are looking for an outstanding design-led solution to fundamentally change this complex problem that pervades societies across the globe.



For the first year of the Dundee Design Challenge, we’ve chosen to ask people to use digital technology to examine and find solutions for some of the issues related to homelessness. We do not expect participants to discover ways of building more houses or shelters; instead we want you to look at some of the problems that are associated with not having secure accommodation and propose new ways, using digital technology, that those problems can be solved. Some of these issues are listed below, but there are many others which could provide the focus for the challenge. You can propose to use any sort of digital technology, keeping in mind that access to the internet is severely limited for some people.

Additionally, we want you to look at the issues around prevention of homelessness – how can technology help people before they lose the roof over their heads?

We want innovative designers to come up with new ideas. From using public spaces, to apps, from new technology to reimagining old technology – and anything in between that can help people without a home to live their lives. Homelessness isn’t just a problem in Dundee, it’s an issue across the world. We want to help designers and developers to start to find solutions.



We want designers and developers to send us a breakdown of an idea that can help people who are homeless or in danger of becoming so.

A panel of industry experts will assess the entries, marking specifically on the following  factors:

  • How innovative the solution is
  • How feasible the technology is
  • The potential for developing the concept into a tangible output that can really help society.
  • A provisional budget

The winner will then take part in a three month residency, with peer and industry support in Dundee.

Issues affecting the homeless include:

  • Knowing your legal rights
  • Food poverty
  • Substance abuse
  • Finding new accommodation
  • Emotional support
  • Communication
  • Prevention of homelessness



  • Flights to and from Dundee
  • A monthly stipend of £2000 for three months.
  • Accommodation for three months
  • Studio / workshop space, free of charge, for three months
  • A peer mentor from Dundee to give support and advice.
  • An exhibition at the end of the residency
  • Opportunities to research the project through live public engagement



The Challenge is open to anybody working in, or with, a UNESCO City of Design.

The Challenge is open to individuals or teams, but please note that the prize is for one person only.

Entrants can be at any stage of their career.

The winner may also work on other projects while they are in Dundee.

By the end of the winner’s time in the city, we require a prototype that can be piloted or developed further.



To enter the Challenge, please send us:

  1. A brief outline of the project you would like to work on, and what stage of development it is currently. (Max 200 words).
  1. A short statement introducing yourself and your discipline. This should include information about your relationship with your Unesco City of Design. (Max 200 words).
  1. Images of or links to THREE current / past projects (please note 10MB email limit, please use a file transfer system if necessary).
  1. A brief statement about why you would like to spend some time working and living in Dundee, and what contribution you would make to the city whilst here. (Max 200 words).
  1. A brief statement regarding why the issue of homelessness is important to you. (Max 200 words).

Send the information to contact@dundeecityofdesign.com



5pm, November 28th 2016



The Dundee Design Challenge is supported by DC Thomson and UNESCO City of Design, Dundee.



Entrants must have a relationship – either residential or working – with any one of the UNESCO Cities of Design.

Entrants must be available to live and work in Dundee for a minimum of three consecutive months between January and June 2017.

A core element of the Challenge is regular engagement with the design, digital and broader Dundee community, and at least 20% of their time while resident must be spent on this, including collaborative work with local designers at the request of UNESCO City of Design Dundee. The winner must be comfortable and confident in public engagement and taking advantage of PR and social media opportunities, from workshops, live research and presentations to traditional PR and blogs.

The Challenge is open to original ideas only, copies of existing IP, products or services will not be considered.

IP would remain with the designer, with partners in the challenge having first refusal for investment / interest in the final product.

Closing date for submissions is 5pm, November 28th 2016

We are unable to respond individually to unsuccessful applicants however feedback will be available on request.



If you have questions, or would like further information please contact the UNESCO City of Design Dundee team at contact@dundeecityofdesign.com