Challenge Fellowships

Complementing the Innovation Projects, a series of competitive open innovation challenges identified by problem holders and industry will be set as part of the programme.

One input to this process will be the decisions of the Selection Panel, which will judge submitted ideas to require deeper work before being ready for near-term funding. Such ideas will be fed to the IAB, which will identify suitable targets, to provide opportunities to migrate new areas of SICSA research towards the key needs of industry. Challenge Fellowships will be competed for by researchers (PhD, RA and staff) in SICSA universities and will be units of 6 months’ duration. Decisions on awards will be made by the Selection Panel, as above.

It is envisaged that challenge fellowships will be able to act as a feeder for follow-on into KTP, SEEKIT, TSB, TTOM, Scottish Enterprise Tourist Innovation funding and voucher-funded SME activity, allowing a smoother and low risk transition for development and deployment to the market place.

Previous Challenges

Our most recent challenge was in the area of Navigation.

The Smart Tourism Navigation Challenge: Groups and Narratives

Navigation encompasses several tasks. We need to orient ourselves, explore, find destinations, and plan itineraries. Tourism, in the cultural and heritage sectors, benefits hugely from existing systems for physical and informational navigation. Yet there are still big obstacles for tourists finding the sites, objects, events and itineraries that will satisfy them.

SICSA Smart Tourism has identified two specific challenges associated with navigation for tourists, and we'd like to invite members of the Smart Tourism community to bid for resources to carry out some innovative work, and feedback the results to the community. Addressing the challenges should involve extending some current work - in areas such as recommendation, search, groupware, mapping, semantic web, speech systems or augmented reality. Naturally, suggested solutions should be as cost-effective as possible!

Challenge 1 - Group navigation

Tourists often visit locations in pairs or small groups, and while there, to plan a set of coordinated activities. Coordination doesn't mean arriving or sticking together. When some go to the museum, others go shopping; some go hillwalking, others go cycling; some go to an exhibition; others catch a show. Splitting up into smaller groups can be more satisfying, but groups of only one can lessen the fun, since much of the pleasure in visiting a place comes from the sharing of the experience. Yet most current tools are designed for single users, helping them select among options and plan routes, itineraries or schedules. As a result, when a group needs access to those tools, one person tends to take charge. When that one person has greater experience of the options, that can be a good thing. But because it's hard to keep track of everyone's preferences and constraints, often the choice comes down to the lowest common denominator - and that can mean that everyone has an acceptable experience, but no-one has a brilliant time.

So, this is the Group Navigation Challenge:
To develop tools and/or techniques and a demonstrator that can be used by a small group to plan and execute a diverse sequence of activities located at a tourist destination, so as to maximise the enjoyment of the overall group.

Challenge 2 - Narrative navigation

Tourists often visit several different places and things during a single vacation. If the tourist is following a trail or a human tour-guide, then the targets will often be interpreted in context: descriptions of later targets will take into account what has been said about earlier targets. In effect, the guide will tell a story, linking targets together the themes, people, and ideas they touch on. Stories are a brilliant way to help people absorb and remember novel information that might otherwise be disorienting. Independent travellers - especially at unstaffed sites - do not get to experience these stories, if they diverge from a fixed trail and do without a tour-guide. They can make do with standalone information about particular spots; but without stories, they lack the glue that will hold that information in place, and they may also miss out on engaging experiences that lie close by, but out of sight.

So, this is the Narrative Navigation Challenge:
To develop tools and/or techniques and a demonstrator that can help individuals to spin a coherent story while visiting a diverse sequence of places and things at a tourist destination, so as to make their visit as understandable and memorable as possible.

** Navigation Challenge Call Deadline **

The deadline for the Navigation Challenge was 31 January 2012. This was the final deadline in Year 1 of the Smart Tourism programme. We will definitely fund one challenge fellowship for the best proposal addressing one or other of the two challenges; funding and quality permitting, we may be able to fund another proposal from this call, later. Each fellowship will be to a value of £38k, and thus cover approximately six months of a Grade 7 researcher's time at 80% FEC. Researchers must be academic researchers located in a SICSA department. The required format for proposals is at the bottom of this page - the page count for full proposals should be around 4-5 pages of A4.

Format of applications

Proposals should be mailed to Each proposal should be around 4 pages of A4, clearly covering the following points. The aim is to keep this process lightweight: we aren't a UK Research Council, each project is not huge - but we do want the best of the bunch, so the proposal should be an opportunity to shine. Calls are open to the SICSA community, but every proposal should have at least one of the Smart Tourism programme's PIs as a named co-participant.

Structure of a Smart Tourism Challenge Fellowship Proposal

0. Abstract

(100 word summary)

1. This is who's handling the proposal

(Main contact …)

2. The navigation challenge

(State whether it is Group Navigation or Narrative Navigation (or both))

3. There is a specific gap

(Indicate the particular facet of the challenge you aim to address, and sketch the state of the art, to show why there is a gap that needs filled  …)

4. We have a promising idea

(Specifically: a way of extending existing, completed research to make demonstrable progress on the challenge that would be clear to the community)


5. We are a very strong team

(Specifically: academic(s). If a problem holder is to be involved - for example, to share data - please do not approach them directly at this stage unless you already have regular contact with them. Instead, contact Alan Settery, who will carry out any liaison.)


6. Here is what we hope to achieve

(In sufficient detail that a reviewer could tell whether project met its objectives)

7. Here is how we plan to build on our idea to achieve it

(Methods, workplan, two deliverables (mid-term and final) - should relate directly to achieving the aims and objectives)

8. Here is what will happen if the project works out

(How the community benefits; how any IP will be exploited or follow-ons funded)

9. Resource requirements/constraints

  • SICSA Academic(s):
    • Overall value to HEI:
    • Staff costs: up to 47.5k pounds - at 100% FEC, that's roughly a Grade 7 RA for 6 months; of this, up to 38k pounds (80% FEC) can be claimed from SFC funds, the rest absorbed by HEI.
    • Equipment costs, up to £1500, and travel costs up to £1000, can also be supported.