Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In the connected and big data era, achieving intelligent and reliable operation of smart cities is aligned with the ambitious targets of the UK for sustainability and reduced emissions by 57% by 2030, while the so called Energy Trilemma (providing affordable, resilient and clean energy) has been identified as a critical issue by the Research Council UK (RCUK), as dealing with resilience and connectedness issues is among its strategic priorities.

The Challenge

The UK has ambitious targets for achieving sustainability and reducing emissions by 57% by 2030, and in the era of big data and connectivity, smart cities that operate reliably, responsibly and intelligently will be key to achieving these targets. Meanwhile, the so-called ‘Energy Trilemma’ (providing affordable, resilient and clean energy) has been identified as a critical issue by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and dealing with resilience and connectedness issues is among its strategic priorities. 

Running in Hilary Term 2023, i-City (sponsored by MathWorks) invites post-graduate students from diverse disciplines to work in teams and find new ways to deploy AI and Machine Learning tools to solve challenges in the following three broad pillars of focus: 

  • Connected Mobility: How can we use AI tools to regulate traffic? Can we use aerial vehicles to monitor ground ones and guide them in real time?
  • Smart Electric Vehicle Charging: Can we achieve vehicle-to-grid and/or vehicle-to-home charging? How to optimally use electric vehicles as dynamic storage devices and direct the stored power to cover grid or home needs?
  • Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: How can we enhance integration of renewable energy sources? How to control buildings efficiently? How can we avoid wasting energy?

Join us first in the Natural History Museum lecture theatre at 6pm on Thursday 19th January for a taster session, setting the scene for the competition.

The main programme starts with an in-person challenge setting meeting at 9am on Wednesday 25th January, followed by 2 days of workshops, introducing tools for innovation, generation and development of ideas, as well as technical training on AI and Machine Learning for those who need it, culminating in pitching each team’s solutions. 

The teams will pitch their solutions at a final workshop on 23rd February in front of a panel of judges drawn from academia and industry. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at a special ‘Dinner with the Dinosaurs’ event held at the Oxford Museum of Natural History on 2nd March. 

Week Date and time Content
1 Thurs 19 January, 6-7pm

Seminar at Natural History Museum promoting i-City:    Kostas Margellos (Reuben College)


Weds 25 January, half day 9.30am-2pm

Inaugural workshop with industry challenges                                   Rory Adams (MathsWorks); Carolyn Hicks (Brill Power); Anupama Sen (Smith School)

Thurs 26 and Fri 27 January, two full days

9am - 5pm (Lunch provided) 


Future Innovators Training Programme (SkillFluence)


Fri 3 February, half day 9am-1pm

Technical training:  (MathWorks)

Fri 10 February, half day 2pm-5pm

Progress check-in: 

Thurs 16 February, half day 9am - 1pm

Meet the Users (round table discussion at Oxford Martin School).


Thurs 23 February, half day 9am-1pm

Final workshop (student presentations and assessments). 

Thursday 2nd March, evening



Dinner with Dinosaurs (with presentation by winning team).

Who can participate?

The competition is open to students of all disciplines from Reuben College and post-graduates all departments in the MPLS Division at the University of Oxford. No previous experience of working with AI and ML is required - diversity of teams is key, and the competition welcomes students with backgrounds in economics, sustainability, ethics and business as well as engineering and computer science students.

Why join in?

  • Build skills in innovation, technology, presenting, pitching and more
  • Enhance your employability - gain valuable transferable skills that will help you in your future career
  • Tackle real-world challenges - and have fun doing it!
  • Prizes will be awarded to each winning participant - full details to be announced

If you are applying after 19th January you should register by emailing