Leuven has been selected as one of the twelve 'most innovative European cities of 2020' by the European Commision. The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) contest is run and funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. It acknowledges cities as unique actors in advancing innovation and significantly contributing to greater resiliency, sustainability and quality of life. Leuven MindGate, Stad Leuven and Leuven 2030 have submitted the dossier together, just like two years ago. In 2018, Leuven was also one of the finalists of the iCapital contest.
Twelve cities from nine countries are in the final stage of the contest to become the European Capital of Innovation 2020. Funded by Horizon 2020, EU’s research and innovation programme, the prize recognises the European cities that develop vibrant innovation ecosystems to address public challenges and improve the lives of the people.
The finalists of this year’s edition are (in alphabetical order):
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:
“Innovation is key for cities to ensure a sustainable recovery after challenging times. When cities nurture innovation ecosystems so that innovation actors and citizens meet and collaborate, they boost their development and resilience. The sixth edition of the European Capital of Innovation Award is set to be another strong contest and will showcase the best innovative practices that drive European cities forward.”
A high-level jury of independent experts selected the 12 finalists by analysing how cities use innovative solutions to respond to societal challenges, how they use such practices in the urban development process and how they engage broad local communities in decision-making.
The winner city will receive the title of European Capital of Innovation 2020 as well as €1,000,000 to support its innovation activities and to enhance its capacity to connect individuals, public sector, academia, and businesses to deliver societal benefits for its communities. Five runners-up will get €100,000 each.
The Commission will announce the winner and the runners-up of the European Capital of Innovation 2020 contest at the European Research and Innovation Days taking place on 22-24 September 2020. At the same event, the Commission will award the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020, the EIC Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid, and the Horizon Impact Award 2020.
The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) contest is run and funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme. It acknowledges cities as unique actors in advancing innovation and significantly contributing to greater resiliency, sustainability and quality of life. Cities in EU Member States and in countries Associated to Horizon 2020 are eligible to enter the contest.
Barcelona won the first competition in 2014 for its use of new technologies to bring the city closer to people and fostering economic growth. Amsterdam won in 2016 for creating an innovation ecosystem with four dimensions: smart, start-ups, liveability and digital social innovation. Paris was named European Capital of Innovation in 2017 for its support in growing the local start-up community and the initiatives offered to the public to actively co-create the city. In 2018, Athens won the title as an example of a city that, despite facing many challenges, used innovation to help the local community bring about change and open up to the world. Nantes received the 2019 title for accelerating democratic participation in tackling challenges such as energy, ageing, the digital transition and social inclusion.