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Judging Criteria

Evaluation criteria can be found in Table 1 of Section 7 of the Multilingual Innovation Challenge Terms and Conditions

Frequently Asked Questions 

FAQs from the Information Session

What architectures have been used to develop transport apps?
The answer depends on what app you're looking at. As far as the transport apps we work with, they're usually using data off the Open Data Hub. Some are using the GTFS data we have and combining that and building their own model into a database on a server and sending that out to the public. Some use the Trip Planner APIs which can field queries more directly than that so you don't have to build your own model. 

What am I expected to include in the submission? An idea, a detailed proposal, or an actual working solution?
Having an existing app with an existing user base is ideal. That's the gold standard of what we're after. Normally what we're looking for is information about how you wish to add support for additional languages into your existing transport product. Having said that, if you have an amazing solution that could potentially help streamline that process in terms of creating something else to assist other developers or an idea in an underserviced area, we'd be looking at those too. You would need to include information about how you'd get that out to the people who would be using it. 

Do you need a product already in the market to be able to apply?
Our intent is always to have a product that is already in existence as much as possible. We will consider a new build, but we are only planning to incubate for three months so the best solution is something already in the market that just needs some tweaking. 

Do companies need to be registered in Australia/have ABN to participate?
If you require seed funding for your solution, you must be registered in Australia and have a valid ABN/ACN. If you do not require seed funding for your solution, this is not essential. 

Is the solution required to be polled by the existing third party apps by exposing an API?
No, this is not required. it's up to you to show us your solution if you wanted to do that. We're open to exposing APIs on the Open Data Hub if you have one that you;ve built. It's up to you. 

Where does Point to Point Transport Services fit within this opportunity. Taxis are an extension of the public transport system in many locations, Regional areas, as well as late night transport.
Absolutely. If anyone wants to pitch us an amazing solution that helps taxi customers in a multilingual way, we would definitely take that on board and judge it fairly. 

Are scripting languages largely web-based?
You can use any scripting language you like for your solution.

Is the current language dataset is just a dataset or a database?
The language dataset is made up of Excel spreadhseets. If you require assistance accessing our data there are a number of resources available via our Getting Started page

How long is the pitch session for each selected candidate?
Should your submission progress to Pitch Day, you will receive 5 minutes to pitch followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with the judges. If preferred, you are able to pre-record your 5 minute pitch to be played to the judges in your allocated timeslot, with you (and your team if applicable) available live for the 5 minute Q&A. 

What ways can people communicate with with TfNSW to ask them questions about their journey planning? (eg. Facebook Messenger?, SMS?, Webchat? etc)
We do have a number of different mechanisms: our .info website has a lot of information, we have a chat bot on Facebook, the Opal Travel appplus the Feedback2Go app and the feedback form on the Transport for NSW website. All are only in English. 

Do you want the Transport NSW applications translated?
No. In terms of our apps like the Opal Travel app, we are not looking to have that translated. This challenge is focused on existing third party travel apps and improving the language options within those apps to better support those communities. 

If you are already an endorsed app, do you qualify for seed funding to provide multiligual support to that app?
This challenge is about public transport, so while endorsed Learner Driver Log Book apps would not qualify, endorsed public transport/travel apps would qualify for seed funding. 

Can you please provide more details on what the application consists of? Is it a document, document + video?
The entry form is a simple form which asks for answers to 9 different questions. We shortlist from those, and if you are chosen to proceed, you will be invited to pitch which may be in video form. If you do wish to create a video for your intial submission you are welcome to, and space for a link to this is provided in the entry form, but it is not required. 

Is there a forum in order to partner with other entrants in the innovation challenge?
Yes, you are able to post in the Open Data Forum in order to find potential partners for this challenge. TfNSW is unable to facilitate any introductions. 

Is the challenge is about the language solution or transportation systems with various language tools?
Our goal is to help our customers. If you want to do a language solution or something else, that is fine, but our judging criteria is very clear. We are trying to help our customers in their most familiar language rather than having them rely on English to take our services. 

How will TfNSW ensure the translations being provided are accurate, appropriate, and meet government requirements?
Our TfNSW Station Names in Other Languages dataset was translated/transliterated through professional translation services. In regards to solutions that may use other translations, we complete external testing of all solutions during the incubation phase, and as part of that will have multilingual testing done on those apps to ensure it is an accurate translation. 

Will the entry form be sent out? 
No, the entry form is available online

If selected for incubation, are there any penalties for not delivering the product?
Seed funding, if applicable, is paid in tranches in accordance with the delivery of agreed milestones. If you do not deliver the product, you would not fulfil the requirements to meet all those tranches. We need to know in advance if there are any particular issues that may prevent you from completing incubation and delivering the final product. In your application and pitch, you will need to demostrate how you are going to implement your solution. If you haven't clearly demonstrated that, you will be unable to progress. 

Is the emaphsis of language on the user interface of the app or on the stations/wharves/Light Rail stop names?
It needs to be a seamless experience for any user in the language(s) you have selected to support. All interface elements (dialogues etc.) will need to be translated for that particular language. One of the requirements of the challenge is that it is easy for the user to switch languages. 

We have a licensed translation app and AI API currently being used by a number of multinational companies. Would we qualify to apply?
We are looking for a public transport related app to help our customers, so you may like to reach out to other applicants via the Open Data Forum to look at partnering with them. You would require some kind of public transport layer in order to qualify. 

Is this challenge open to TfNSW staff?
If you are seeking seed funding, we are very unlikely to choose a solution with any affiliation to Transport for NSW staff. There are a number of internal innovation programs available at TfNSW. If you do not require seed funding, we have no problem progressing an application directly from or affiliated with TfNSW staff. 

What about using QR codes so that users can pick up their preferred language and all transport info (maps, timetables etc.) can directly be translated on their mobile phone?
It is very difficult to get permission to put anything (such as a poster with a QR code) onto a station, train, platform etc. For a third party app, the likelihood of being able to do this is extremely low.  

Does TfNSW have a stock catalogue of terminology in International English that app developers must use for their apps?
It's not a stock catalogue, but there is certain terminology we use. We do have brand guidelines we adhere to for our own apps such as the Opal Travel app. During the incubation process we will look at terminology used, but there is no catalogue as such. 

Can I ask travel questions to TfNSW via Facebook?
There is a Facebook Messenger bot you can ask questions to via the Transport for NSW Facebook page

What are the geographic and language focuses for this challenge? 
More detailed information is available at the bottom of this page. We do have 12 languages already translated, so they would be the priority. In terms of which languages from those you should prioritise, ensure it is the one(s) you can best support, for example if you have team members who speak that language. Having said that, non-Roman script language are of a higher priority than Roman script languages.

So what we need to show is: how we can integrate different languages into our app that users currently use, how they can change the language, how the app will help them, and how this integration can affect our users by using data you already have. Is that correct?
If you do all of those things, that's what we're asking for. Show us what the pexirence will be like and show us how you're going to support this on an ongoing basis - do you have the required resources? In terms of using the data we already have, that is optional. The resource is there if it makes sense for you to use, but this is not a requirement. 

If we have questions to ask in the coming weeks, how do we best ask them?
You can use the Multilingual Innovation Challenge forum thread, our Twitter page, or send us an email at

Do you have a list of top 10 language that need to be translated?
We have 12 langages already translated. If you wanted the top 10 from there, we'd suggest excluding German and French. At the bottom of this page, you will find further links and resources from the ABS regarding data such as visitor numbers, levels of English in other countries, and more to help you prioritise. We are not expecting everyone to include another 10 languages - more is not necessarily better. The best language for you to prioritise is the language you can best support.

What do you mean by supporting in the future? What timeline should we be looking at? 5 years time? What changes are you expecting to be updated?
We dont have a specific timeframe in mind, however we would expect it to be ongoing at least for the next three years. Adding additional languages to your app may not be on your roadmap, and so this challenge may not be appropriate for you to enter. In terms of changes, we will add new stations to the dataset as they join the TfNSW network. Ensuring your app remains current over time may require updates to the interface in different languages. 

Can someone from another area of the NSW government, outside TfNSW, apply for this challenge? 
Yes, provided you are not known to any member of our team. 

Can you extend the submission due date?
No. You are not required to develop any part of the product for your initial submission. We are looking for you to detail the idea and how it would be implemented in line with the challenge criteria. 

What can TfNSW offer in the way of app exposure, if any?
You should be proposing as if we will provide no exposure at all. We may be able to do this for endorsed apps that complete incubation, however it should not be a crucial element of the success of your solution as media and marketing support from TfNSW is not guaranteed. Endorsed apps are included on the website as well as the Open Data Hub. 

What would be the value proposition for transport-based customer products to offer support for additional languages?
For this challenge, there is seed funding and product testing. On an ongoing basis, as a TfNSW endorsed app, you have direct communication channels with the Open Data & Innovation Team plus direct support from our team for you product. 

When will we know that we have been accepted to pitch if we are successful with our submission?
We aim to get back to all entrants within 4-5 days of the submission closing date, which is 31 March 2021 at 11:59pm. 

Are you open to proposals outside of this contest?
Yes, please contact us directly via You can also contact the Transport Digital Accelerator for additional opportunities.

FAQs from the Forum

Will successful applicants be allowed to access the currently private API for real-time carriage occupancy on Sydney Trains? 
Yes, Endorsed App developers will get access to the private API, although there is work currently to make realtime occupancy of Waratah trains accessible to everyone.


General FAQs

What seed funding is available for the Innovation Challenge?
A seed funding pool of up to $90,000 is available. If seed funding is required, applicants must indicate an amount from $5000 up to $50,000. Solutions will be evaluated against the selection criteria and must provide value for money. 

How will the Innovation Challenge work?
An information session was held on Wednesday 17th March 2021, with the recording and a copy of the slides published on the Innovation Challenge website. This session was designed for interested parties to ask questions and get information before applications are due.

Applications opened on Wednesday 17th March 2021, and closed on Wednesday 31st March 2021 at 23:59:59.

Potential applicants had the opportunity to meet key subject matter experts at the information session to help develop their submission. Once applications close, they are assessed and ranked by a screening panel. 

Selected teams will progress to the next stage of the challenge where they will be invited to pitch their ideas to a judging panel as part of the Pitch Day. Successful teams will be invited to incubation. 

Incubated teams may receive funding and access to subject matter experts. Teams who successfully complete the incubation stage will then be assessed for endorsement.

Who can participate in the Innovation Challenge?
We welcome all submissions that meet the challenge objectives. It is expected that teams are incorporated and are able to engage in legal and/or commercial terms with Transport for NSW.

Are there any restrictions on who can enter?
International participants are welcome to apply. Pitch Day will be held via video conference so you can participate. If you are a TfNSW employee you may be ineligible to participate in this innovation challenge. Please reach out to our team for further clarification.

What criteria will the judging be based on? 
Judging criteria can be found in Table 1 of Section 7 of the Multilingual Innovation Challenge Terms and Conditions
Generally, Transport for NSW endorsed products are required to meet Endorsement Criteria, including factors such as:

  1. Customer Experience - Is the solution appealing, effortless, intuitive and easy to use?

  2. Product integration - How will the proposed functionality be integrated into the product? 

  3. Market Feasibility - How will the product serve its target users?

  4. Commercial Sustainability - Can the idea sustain its commercial momentum? Is it likely to be profitable in the long term?

  5. Technical Feasibility - Does the team have the skills and experience required to effectively develop and launch the product?

  6. Value for money - Does the solution provide NSW Government value for money?

When does the solution have to be delivered by? 
The incubation period will be up to 12 weeks. The product will need to be delivered at incubation conclusion. 

Do I have to have an existing product to enter the challenge? 
Generally, yes. The Challenge is primarily aimed at those who already have an existing public transport digital product - ie. an Android/iOS smartphone application. 

Do I need an existing user base for my product to enter the challenge?
If your product is consumer focused, you will need to provide details of your existing user base. You must demonstrate how you will reach the target market of your chosen languages and grow your user base.

When do applications open?
The Multilingual Innovation Challenge opened on 17th March 2021.

When do applications close?
Applications closed on 31st March 2021 at 23:59:59. 

I have questions about the challenge. Who can I contact?
Please read the FAQ page. You can also ask on the Open Data Forum - there is a thread dedicated to the Multilingual Innovation Challenge at or email us at

Where do I apply? 
Applications are open on the official Innovation Challenge website from Wednesday 17th March 2021 via the Entry Form

What is the best way to connect and stay up to date?
Announcements via Twitter: @DataTfNSW 
Sign up to our mailing list:
Join the developer forum: 
Technical issues:

What other opportunities are there to engage with Transport for NSW?
Transport for NSW regularly runs Hackathons and Innovation Challenges. For information about when these might be occurring please visit the innovation section of the Open Data Hub. 

Is there a process for approaching partners that might complement our skills? 
In the past, we have held collaboration sessions for these kinds of events, however with the current environment it’s going to be a real challenge for us to do that. We haven’t planned anything along those lines for this challenge. We do encourage you to partner with others if you wish, but we do not have the ability to facilitate and in person networking gathering at this time due to physical distancing restrictions at the time of planning. 

Do we have to cover all public transport in NSW or a particular area?
Your existing product ideally would cover the whole of the NSW public transport network, however products will be evaluated on merit and on the customer experience.

Does the solution need to include all 12 languages? 
No. The experience of users in their chosen language and ability to service those users long-term is a higher priority.

Do I have to engage with professional translation services for my chosen languages? Or can I reach out to my friends/the community/crowdsource?
The responsibility is on you or your team to advise us on how you will conduct appropriate quality assurance to ensure the solution works as intended in the target language.

What happens to the intellectual property (IP) which has been developed during the innovation challenge – is it for TfNSW?
With all third party products developed through Innovation Challenges, the IP belongs to those who have developed it.

Is there a guarantee of a contract with TfNSW if the successful organisation/consortium wins the innovation challenge?
No. As part of the submission, there is a question about how the solution will be made commercially sustainable. If we are to be the customer, you need to make that very clear and that will be taken into account. With all our products, we’d prefer not to be the customer, because we don’t want your reliance on NSW Government funding to be sustainable. We want an innovative product that will support you commercially, as well as our needs and our customers’ needs, so it’s a win-win-win.

How many solutions will be accepted? 
We haven’t determined that yet. We’re open to more than one, and are not going to put a particular restriction around that.

How many applicants will be shortlisted to the pitch day?
There is no set limit. Typically around 10 are chosen to pitch.

Are there TfNSW digital guidelines available for UX/UI usability?
Proponents are expected to demonstrate adherence to best practice design and accessibility principles. Digital NSW does provide guidelines, however. TfNSW does not have specific guidelines around this. Accessibility should be a consideration. 

Would you be co-selling this app? 
If it’s an endorsed product we market the product to some extent, but we don’t have any IP. No is the answer.

What languages should I target? 
The languages your team can best support now and in the future. 

How do I prioritise/select which languages to include? 

  • See previous question
  • Select from the 12 languages with translated/transliterated stop and station names: 
  • Non-Roman script languages would generally be of higher value to use than ones that use a Roman script
  • The following data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics may also be useful:
    • Top 10 languages spoken at home (2016), excluding English 
      1. Mandarin
      2. Arabic
      3. Cantonese
      4. Vietnamese
      5. Greek
      6. Italian
      7. Tagalog/Filipino
      8. Hindi
      9. Spanish
      10. Korean
    • Top 15 visitor countries to NSW (2019)
      1. China
      2. USA
      3. New Zealand
      4. United Kingdon
      5. Japan
      6. Korea
      7. India
      8. Hong Kong
      9. Singapore
      10. Germany
      11. Canada
      12. Malaysia
      13. Indonesia
      14. France
      15. Taiwan
    • Short-term visitor arrivals to NSW, median duration of stay (days), 2018-19
      1. India - 31
      2. UK - 17
      3. China - 12
      4. USA - 10
      5. Hong Kong - 10
      6. Malaysia - 9
      7. Singapore - 8
      8. Korea (South) - 7
      9. New Zealand - 6
      10. Japan - 6
    • List of countries by English-speaking population (Wikipedia)