Innovation challenges

Our approach

Innovation challenges

Preventing chronic disease in cities starts with identifying and exploring novel solutions to these large health challenges. Novo Nordisk has driven a range of innovation challenges, and now, Cities for Better Health is continuing this legacy of innovation. 

The Healthy Cities Challenge is a global call for innovative and ready-to-implement ideas that shape healthy, green and thriving urban neighbourhoods, launched by Novo Nordisk in partnership with C40. 


The challenge is open to any non-profit or university across the globe to submit proposals through our online platform. The winners will each receive a grant of 100,000 US dollars to pilot their solution. The challenge runs from April to June 2024.

The global rise in chronic diseases is largely driven by a change in the environments we live in, notably lacking supportive factors for good health and well-being.


Cities are facing a climate and health inequity crisis due to outdated planning models, leading to fragmented food systems, polluted air, sedentary lifestyles, and poor access to nature, as well as lack of services, amenities and social cohesion, which all contribute to driving the global increase in chronic diseases.


Neighbourhood food environments heavily influence dietary habits for urban residents, while urban spaces impact physical activity levels. Transforming these environments to promote health and equipping individuals with the necessary skills and resources are key to promoting healthy lifestyles.


Unhealthy environments disproportionately impact underserved and marginalised populations, facing limited access to nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity. Socioeconomic disparities exacerbate these challenges, underscoring the need for societal action to create inclusive, supportive environments for all to lead healthy lives.

Submit your proposal here

The journey

  1. 1. Open call where participants can submit proposals for initiatives that create healthier environments in urban communities, with a focus on health equity. This can include projects that improve access to healthy, affordable food, shape urban spaces to promote physical activity and mental well-being, or other initiatives that facilitate healthy living in cities.

  2. 2. All submitted ideas proceeded through a review process by a panel of experts in public health, sustainability, urban design, community engagement and more.

  3. 3. Ten finalists will be invited to refine their ideas and develop a final proposal with a budget, partnership letters of intent and results framework.

  4. 4. The refined ideas are re-submitted to the platform and pitched to the selection panel.

  5. 5. Three winners will be granted funding to implement their projects.