Leuven is among the last six candidates to become European Capital of Innovation 2020. The European Commission awards this title to the city that makes the best use of innovation to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. The other five finalists are Cluj-Napoca, Espoo, Helsingborg, Valencia and Vienna. On September 24th, the EU will announce which city can call itself iCapital 2020 and will receive 1 million euros.
Together with Leuven 2030 and Leuven MindGate, the city of Leuven put itself forward as a candidate, just as it did in 2018. Leuven then finished in the top three. "That was a great recognition for our city, just like this place in the finals," says mayor Mohamed Ridouani. "We now hope to do even better and cash in on the nomination for European Capital of Innovation 2020".
"Innovation has been in our DNA for centuries. Just think of Vesalius, Mercator, Thomas More, Erasmus... who all resided in our city. That innovative mindset is today still present in Leuven", says mayor Ridouani. "Leuven is a city that continues to connect its citizens towards a better future, a city where we take care of each other. Improving the well-being and quality of life of the people of Leuven is central to all innovation".
In order to have a chance to win the iCapital Award, 'citizen engagement' is an important criterion. Here, too, Leuven scores well. "The people of Leuven are very involved. We work with a lot of people every day to make Leuven the most sustainable, social and prosperous city in Europe," says mayor Ridouani.
The jury did not fail to notice that Leuven invariably leads the way with its innovative and ambitious approach to the challenges of our time.
"We are proud of our unique way of working together, for which we have received European recognition over the past few years and with which we continue to inspire widely. In addition to this powerful process innovation, we are also particularly strong in Leuven in the field of technological innovation on the one hand and climate innovation on the other. For example, in our recent systemic approach to the urban climate transition, we are at the forefront in Europe. Where these three forms of innovation reinforce each other, the most significant steps are being taken," says Katrien Rycken, director of Leuven 2030.
"Indeed, with the second nomination in three years for the European 'iCapital' competition, we are proving that we are one of the top innovators in Europe," adds Johan Merlevede, Director of Leuven MindGate. "Just think of all the innovations ‘made in Leuven’ which have made life a little more bearable over the past corona months. But the real innovation of the Leuven region is that we know how to work together. In Leuven, the bright and creative minds come together and together we get an even better end result: technologically, climatologically and socially. This 'Innovate for the better' approach of the dossier is clearly also what charmed the European jury.”