Earlier, we reported that Leuven had been elected as one of the 6 finalists in the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) contest, hosted by the European Commission. The winner – Athens has been elected European Capital of Innovation 2018 – was announced on 6 November at the Web Summit in Lisbon (Portugal). Unfortunately, Leuven just missed the top prize of 1 million euros, but thanks to the recognition, Leuven will now be internationally renowned towards an innovative audience.
Mohamed Ridouani (2nd from the left), at the press conference of the iCapital contest on Nov 6, 2018 in Lisbon (Portugal)
Together with Leuven MindGate and Leuven 2030, the city of Leuven filed in a dossier to compete in the European contest. Out of 26 cities, originating from 16 different countries, Leuven was the only contestant who filed in its candidature together with other parties. “Every day, we work on a better and more sustainable future for our city. We do this in close collaboration with entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and inhabitants”, says Mohamed Ridouani, mayor-elect of Leuven and current council member of Economy, Environment and City Development. “Together, we join forces to tackle the societal challenges and our shared ambitions.”
Innovation is key
Johan Merlevede, Managing Director of Leuven MindGate is - despite missing the top prize - thrilled about the recognition for Leuven: “The list of participants was really impressive this year. However, thanks to this recognition, Leuven will now be internationally renowned towards an innovative audience. This is really important as it will help us to attract high-potential employees, who will get to know Leuven as an innovative and elevated region to work and live. And this is what Leuven MindGate is trying to achieve since its founding.”
Katrien Rycken from Leuven 2030 concurs: “The participatory approach of the candidature was an asset, just like it was when we won the European Green Leaf Award. We notice that the close collaboration between the city and its partners is remarkable. In Leuven, we work together as a community towards a healthy, sustainable and climate neutral future. Innovation is key in these challenges. The collaboration model of Leuven 2030 and Leuven MindGate is in itself innovative, and draws a lot of international attention. Thanks to our participation in this contest, we have met a wide array of interesting and innovative cities, which each have their own approach in making their cities innovative and sustainable. I look forward to sharing knowledge with them and hope we will be able to work closer together.”
This year’s European Capital of Innovation Awards was launched in February 2018. The contest was open to cities with over 100 000 inhabitants from EU Member States and Countries Associated to Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris won the competition in 2014, 2016 and 2017 respectively.