24-28 June 2019

City Startup Challenge

Help us transform the football industry.

City Startup Challenge is a 5-day accelerator that offers fully-funded pilot tests to start-ups who are able to demonstrate that they can successfully collaborate with City Football Group to bring new ideas to the challenges we face.


City Startup Challenge tackles the Future Stadium. Do you have what it takes to help us create the stadium of tomorrow?

Sustainable Stadium

How we might reduce waste, improve energy efficiencies and reduce our carbon footprint?

Easy Stadium

How we can make matchday quicker and easier by removing queues and improving access to services. We are looking for parking solutions, quick serving staff, stadium entry, security and bag checks and improved way finding

Vibrant Stadium

How we might leverage home advantage and engage the crowd even more in the action, creating a visual spectacle, optimize acoustics, create viral moments and connect fans with fans inside and outside the stadium

My Stadium

How we could create a smart environment that enables us to provide each fan with an individual experience, know who is in the crowd, learn fan behaviours to anticipate their needs

Global Stadium

We want all our supporters to feel part of a family that isn’t constrained by physical location or time, enable networking and connect world wide fans with each other, Gamify Fan Engagement,Empower fans and create immersive and personalized content (broadcasting / TV/ VR/ AR).

What is offered

at City Startup Challenge

  • Access and working side by side with key representatives from City Football Group’s Leadership Team
  • Opportunity to have an MVP of your solution tested with a funded pilot at one (or more) of CFG's clubs
  • If successful, your solutions could be introduced to the Sapphire Sport Fund
  • Networking with CFG staff and other start-ups
  • Talks and panel discussions on different aspects of managing a global football organisation
  • Guidance and entrepreneurial advice on your project
  • Accommodation, healthy food and some surprise training with our top coaches at the CFA campus

StartUps we've helped

Get started with City Football

At City Football Group we live innovation. Our proven track record of embracing early-stage ideas and supporting the start-up community makes us an ideal partner for taking your idea to the next level.

Inspired by #HACKMANCITY

Today, Frontier Labs are a start-up success story working at the intersection of data science and human centred design. However, it was the success that founders Ben and Steven enjoyed in winning the first-ever football data hackathon, organised by City Football, in April 2016 that inspired them to go further and setup their own company. Since then, Frontier Labs have become regular collaborators with City Football Group and have been hired to work on complex data analytics problems relating to crowd behaviour and football performance.

Get smarter

In August 2018, after twelve months of development with its creators, Turnpike Group, Manchester City were the first to launch Fantom¸ a first of its kind smartband for sports fans. With City Fantom, Cityzens around the world receive the latest club news, match statistics and more, direct to their wrist.

We believe we are a global community, not just a football club. No matter where they are in the world, we want our Cityzens to actively participate in the club and be the first to know the most important news. By thinking differently and embracing new ideas, we think we can create an unparalleled fan experience.

Who should apply?

We are looking for Start ups (2 to 3 persons per start up) who can participate at the start-up week.

Criteria for participation:

  • You are a start-up in early stage
  • You will be available In Manchester for the full start-up week (24th to 28th of June)
  • You have innovative/disruptive solutions applicable to football that align with our challenges

You will be able to work side by side with the CFG Challenge Stakeholders for the duration of the week to develop a Pilot Program. Successful pilots will be funded.

The deadline for applications is 31st March 2019.

Register here

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is is 31st March 2019


Application process

18 Feb – 31 March

Register for City Startup Challenge

1 April – 14 April

First Round Evaluation

15 April – announcement of short list selection

16 April – 4 May

Second Round Evaluation

Skype interviews with selected short list

6 May

Announcement of Finalists

Finalists invited to participate with CFG in Manchester, UK 24-28 June

7 May - 10 June

Planning & Warm up

Further skype meetings with selected finalist’s start-up teams and CFG challenge stakeholders to plan work sessions during start-up week

24 - 28 June

City Startup Challenge

Worksessions at CFA campus and MCFC offices in Manchester. Pilots presented, winners selected


The event will take place at:

City Football Academy
Ashton New Rd
M11 3FF

Get directions


Who is eligible to register?

We are looking for startups in their early stage, seed capital and round A and B financing; you should be able to provide evidence of current clients/customers and revenues. This is a global innovation contest with a specific focus on the regions where City Football Group is present, namely: Greater Manchester and the UK, New York Metropolitan Area, Greater Melbourne, Catalonia and Spain, Singapore, Montevideo and Yokohama.

What are the prizes?

The winning teams will receive funding for an MVP pilot of their solution with City Football Group, as per the guidance outlined above. Finalists will also be introduced to senior executives of City Football Group and the organizations collaborating in City Startup Challenge.

What dynamics and outcomes are expected during the 5 working days in June?

During the 5 working days in June, you will be collaborating with City Football Group to develop a plan for applying your solution to our use case.

The working week will be structured around a series of meetings and interactions, that will be moderated and managed, to ensure a productive use of your time. We will include specific time to allow you to understand our challenges more deeply, carry out any necessary field work, ideate with CFG and develop a pilot plan to present on the final day.

The pilot plans will be judged by a panel of senior City Football experts. We will expect you to:

  • Define an MVP to be tested which demonstrates the key attributes of your solution. The MVP should describe what functions/services it will entail and to which aspects of the challenges it will address);
  • Be ready to execute the pilot over a maximum period of six-months, including any development and testing phases.
  • All relevant CFG challenge stakeholders should be involved in the pilot test;
  • Control your budget. The pilot study will be funded by City Football Group with tight budgets set to keep projects to the necessary scale required to demonstrate their future value.
  • Define criteria of how success will be measured
  • Define a clear time line and milestones / go-no-go points
  • Define a detailed workplan for the pilot indicating tasks, responsibilities, contribution and participation of CFG staff or any other third parties
  • Enter a pre-agreement on further collaboration in case the pilot is successful (how will IP managed, how will exploitation rights managed, what possible roll out plan could there be?)

What are the selection criteria?

  • You are a startup in the stage of seed capital, round A and/or B, with established clients and proven revenue
  • You are addressing and have a potential solution addressing a subject related to one of the stated challenges
  • You are available to travel to Manchester, England spending 5-days at City Football Group during the week commencing 24th June, 2019
  • You are motivated to try to implement a pilot test with City Football Group

Who are the selection panel?

A jury with experts consisting of senior executives from City Football Group and other industries will select the finalists to join us in Manchester for the City Startup Challenge. The same or similar panel will also decide on the contests winners, who will receive a funded pilot of their proposed solution.

What do I bring?

Bring the equipment you would need for demos and other working equipment needed for the working sessions. There will be an opportunity to discuss this during the selection process.

Who owns my work and IP?

Participants will be obliged to sign a participation NDA agreement in which they agree to not use and/or commercially exploit any IP and insights provided by CFG during the City Startup Challenge and vice versa.

An agreement for any IP that is jointly developed during City Startup Challenge and subsequent pilot projects may be discussed during the preparation and definition of the pilot.

Who is City Football Group?

Established in May 2013, City Football Group is the owner of football-related businesses in major cities around the world, including football clubs, academies, technical support and marketing companies.

It is our ambition to increase participation in football on and off the field, to find and develop the best footballing talent, and to deliver an exciting and forward playing game.

By achieving these ambitions – playing attractive football, engaging our community of passionate fans and adopting a uniquely global yet local approach – we are growing a sustainable and socially responsible organisation, consistent with what ‘City’ football has meant to people for over a century.

Today, the Group has majority owned and operated clubs on three continents – Manchester City FC in the Premier League, New York City Football Club in the MLS and Melbourne City FC of the A-League.

All of these clubs' men’s, women’s and youth teams train at City Football Academies, each facility designed upon the same principles and philosophy as the Group HQ in Manchester. This was the first City Football Academy, a world-leading youth development and first team training facility, designed as a physical manifestation of the Group’s commitment to sustainability, embedded within its local community.

Each Club’s vision to use football for social good is delivered in part through City in the Community, Manchester City’s 30-year-old charity, which has since been replicated in New York and Melbourne.

The Group also has investments in the J-League’s Yokohama F. Marinos, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC in La Liga and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China.

Not a Start up? We want to hear from you

If you are not a startup as such or as indicated in the description of selection criteria, please feel free to register and fill out the application form provided here for non startups. We are happy to receive and study your ideas and solutions and possibly explore other routes of collaboration.