Frequently asked questions

Details on the competition including how to apply, eligibility and practical questions about the application process

Frequently asked questions

1.Which cities are eligible to apply for this award?
All cities with a population equal or above 100 000 inhabitants in the EU Member States or in Associated Countries to Horizon 2020 (see exceptions below) are eligible. For the purposes of this competition, a "city" is any urban area understood as an administrative unit governed by a city council or another form of democratically elected body. Eurostat will be the official source of reference (the latest available year will be considered for the population threshold):

For countries not covered by Eurostat, the European Commission will perform specific checks when assessing the eligibility criteria, and might ask any concerned cities to prove they comply with this requirement.


2.What are the Associated Countries to Horizon 2020?
A full list of the Associated Countries to Horizon is available here


3.What happens if a country has no cities above 100 000 inhabitants?
In such countries, the largest city is eligible to apply.


4.Can metropolitan areas apply?
Yes, as long as they comply with all requirements listed in the contest rules and they are not falling under any of the exclusion cases listed in the call documents.


5.Can a city submit more than one application?
No. As a general rule, the award is aimed at rewarding the most innovative city practices in the framework of a developed, multi-faceted, well-functioning city innovation ecosystem. Therefore, a city can present different initiatives within the same application (for example, projects run by different city departments) as a common, holistic approach to foster innovation.


6.Why should the mayor/the equivalent highest political representative sign the application?
According to the contest rules and the other prescriptions set out in this document, the general principle is that a city can only submit one application. The endorsement of the city mayor (or the equivalent political representative) is meant to ensure that the highest city representative will not sign two applications.


7."The submission consists of a complete application". What does this mean?

  • Mayor's (or equivalent) endorsement
  • Proof that proposed actions relate to initiatives started after 1st January 2016 (see Rules of contest)
  • Declaration on honor stating that no exclusion criteria are applicable (see Rules of Contest)
Contestants are requested to provide the application form (Part B) duly filled in, along with three obligatory annexes:
These mandatory documents have to be uploaded in the relevant slots marked with a red dot in Step 5 of the application. Applications missing any of these documents can not be retained for evaluation.


8.Where can I find both the Part B and the Declaration on honor templates?
On the left side of the application page there is a blue box "Download PART B Templates". Here you can find both documents. You will have to download the corresponding file, complete and upload it in the corresponding box. Do not forget to include an ID/passport copy to the Declaration on honor.


9.Can I upload further documents?
No. you can upload in the annex of Part B any further relevant information supporting your application (e.g. budget plans; creation of local partnerships; involvement of population and/or stakeholders) provided you do not exceed the size limits.


10.What is the size of the documents that I can upload?
You must exclusively use PDF (portable document format) files.
For Part B there is a limit of 20Mbytes. The page limit is 30 (including page 1 for instructions and all annexes).
For all other documents, the size limit is 10MBytes each.


11.Is the template provided in Part B mandatory?
Yes. Candidates are requested to use the provided template (Part B) and to fill in all the boxes mentioned there. They can include charts and/or pictures if they deem it necessary; however they have to comply with the provided layout and respect the size limits provided in the Rules of Contest.


12.When I open the application software I am asked to provide an acronym and a summary of 2000 characters. What does it need to entail?
The acronym and summary section mainly serves the purpose of helping the software to archive and search for your application. It is an automatic step when creating an application. The summary will be also relevant for your evaluation as it will have to be included in the first box of the submission form (Part B).


13.I am a city official and I have a general delegation to act on behalf of the mayor in affairs covering the subject of my application. Do I need another specific delegation to apply on mayor's behalf for this contest?
No, the general delegation to act is sufficient for the purpose of this award and can be uploaded as requested above. However, an application failing to prove the mayor's endorsement (or his/her explicit delegation) will be rejected.


14.We are a private company which received a delegation from the city mayor to carry out a specific activity, and this activity would become the object of the city application. Can we apply on his/her behalf to this competition?
No, the delegation does not refer to external stakeholders: it only applies to city officials specifically designated by the mayor.


15.At the end of 2015 we adopted a legal act, according to which our innovative action would be launched after January 2016. Is it eligible? What documents should we submit?
In order to be eligible an initiative must not have started before 1 January 2016, regardless of when the relevant administrative act was adopted (it can be earlier). However, if such an act does not mention the actual starting date of the initiative, you should prove this by uploading any further relevant documents. For any further information you can also use the annex section of Part B.


16."Winners of former European Capital of Innovation contests are not eligible. This does not apply to runners-up". Could you specify this?
Two past contests have been set in 2014 and 2016, each having a final ranking with a winner, two runners-up and further finalists. While both the two first-prize winners are excluded by this competition, runner-ups and other finalists are eligible.


17."Contestants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities". Can you clarify this?
As a general principle, the European Commission applies the principle of non-cumulative award ("double funding"), i.e. the EU will not fund twice the same activity. If the activities are different, the prize can be awarded, regardless of their timeline.


18.Our initiative has already received a regional award from my country and/or support from European structural funds. Does this disqualify us?
No, it does not. Only contestants having previously received an EU or Euratom prize and applying with the same activities are not eligible. Former winners of the European Capital of Innovation competitions are not eligible either.


19.The award looks at cities as a whole 'innovation ecosystem'. What does this mean?
The award supports the vision of a city as a place of systemic innovation. Innovation as a system links the citizens (People) with the built environment (Place) and public organizations and policy-makers (Public) through business (Private) - creating an interactive city-wide innovation ecosystem.


20.What is the focus of the award, and what will be particularly evaluated?
The award aims at acknowledging innovative practices in cities, based on experimentation, i.e. the winning city should demonstrate how it acts as a test-bed to find solutions to local societal challenges. Impact will be a leading principle along with citizens' involvement: the evaluation will particularly consider citizens-driven initiatives, i.e. activities showing a high degree of engagement of citizens (in broad terms) along the whole spectrum of the application from design to implementation; and how the city's innovative practices position that city as a role model for others.


21.In the contest documents you refer to different terms like strategy, practices, achievements etc. What is the difference? What should be the focus of the application?
It is up to the applicant city to decide whether a full strategy (i.e. a comprehensive document setting out a long-term vision) or a policy (i.e. a set of decisions, programs or projects part of a bigger strategy) could help describe (and to what extent) the city's innovation ecosystem. However, the focus should remain on innovative and creative practices, i.e. concrete actions resulting from, or a part of, a strategy or a policy related to the city's innovation ecosystem (across the whole spectrum, including coordination, administration, direct service etc). Only the most relevant actions supporting the city attitude to innovate should be included in the application, considering the limited available space in Part B. Applicants will have to demonstrate their relevant impact, including facts and figures related to concrete achievements.


22.How will the 'Impact' be evaluated?
The overall award objective is to shed light on new, innovative practices. Therefore, the goal of the assessment is not to measure the absolute figures of a city strategy; it will rather focus on the 'distance travelled', i.e. the progress in developing and implementing an innovative practice. This must be however supported by clear and relevant facts and figures.


23.You ask to provide concrete achievements to support the application. What does it mean?
Concrete evidence could be any supporting data, paper, fact, figure, web link and other tools that present high relevance and provides clear indication of any achievement in the specific field, (e.g. number of people reached through a campaign etc.). You can also use the Part B annex for this purpose.


24.Among the evaluation criteria, what does 'Experimenting' exactly mean?
'Experimenting' refers to any innovative concepts, processes, tools, and governance models proving a city's commitment to act as test-bed for a number of innovative practices. Contestants should also explain how such practices are mainstreamed into the ordinary urban development process, i.e. how the public sector ensures that these practices become beneficial to the whole city.


25.Among the evaluation criteria, what does 'Engaging' exactly mean?
Under the 'Engaging' criterion, contestants should explain how their city uses innovation to increase the chances for a broader range of citizens to make their innovative practices emerge, by particularly ensuring the uptake of their ideas.


26.Among the evaluation criteria, what does 'Expanding' exactly mean?
'Expanding' means how the city aims at attracting new talent, resources, funding, investments through its innovative practices, thus positioning itself as a potential role model for other cities.


27.Among the evaluation criteria, what does 'Empowering' exactly mean?
Under this criterion, contestants are requested to provide evidence of any concrete and measurable impact directly connected to the implementation of innovative practices. Facts and figures provided should relate to concrete achievements.


28.How will the evaluation process work?
The call will remain open for three months, so the deadline will be June 21st. The European Commission will provide a first screening of the received applications as set out by art. 3.1 of the Rules of contest). A panel of independent experts will perform an individual assessment between July and September, and the sum of individual scores will provide a first, provisional ranking. The highest 8 to 10 ranked cities will be convened to Brussels in September for hearings with the jury of evaluators. The hearings are an integral part of the evaluation process and will be included in the final call ranking.
The winners will be announced in early November during a ceremony in a prestigious European location, where all the finalists will be invited. The city mayors are requested to attend.


29.Is there any obligation to report in the application how the prize money will be used, in case of awarding?
The European Capital of Innovation award is a ‘recognition prize’ under Horizon 2020. The prize money will acknowledge the innovative practices listed in the application. Therefore, the winner will not sign any grant agreement with the European Commission, and the payment to the winner(s) will be done in one instalment, once the final ranking is approved. If the applicant deems it useful, any concrete idea, plan or relevant information on how the prize would contribute to (or scale up) the city innovative practices can be mentioned in the application and further detailed in the annex. It is recommendable to focus on the most relevant information to facilitate evaluators' assessment.


30.What are the obligations for winners about the prize money?
While there is no legal obligation as such on the actual use of the money, the Commission will stay politically vigilant to avoid any misuse of EU money. Winning cities will be particularly requested to respect the Commission rules as regards publicity and dissemination (Art. 8 of the Rules of contest).


European Capital of Innovation poster


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