European Capital of Innovation Award 2020

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth announced the European Capital of Innovation 2020 at the European Research and Innovation Days on 24 September 2020.

The city of Leuven in Belgium is the European Capital of Innovation 2020. The award recognises Leuven’s excellent innovation concepts as well as processes and governance models creating a framework that brings ideas to life. The municipality will receive a €1,000,000 prize funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme. The five runner-up cities – Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Espoo (Finland), Helsingborg (Sweden), Valencia (Spain) and Vienna (Austria) – will receive €100,000 each.

News alert: Leuven is European Capital of Innovation 2020

Watch the Ceremony

What is the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Award?

This is an annual cash prize awarded to the European city that is best able to demonstrate its ability to harness innovation to improve the lives of its citizens.

In particular cities that

  • contribute to open and dynamic innovation ecosystems
  • involve citizens in governance and decision-making
  • use innovation to improve the resiliency and sustainability of their cities

Why is there a prize?

This prize enables European cities to showcase their contribution to developing local innovation ecosystems for the benefit of businesses and the wellbeing of their citizens.

Prize value

€1 million to the city named European Innovation Capital of the year.

€100,000 to each of the five runner-up cities.

The award also recognises a number of finalist cities specially acknowledged for their efforts in promoting innovation.

Who can apply?

A city can apply as long as it

Award criteria

Cities are judged on how they implement innovative solutions to societal challenges. These solutions can be completed or ongoing, but must have been implemented in the year prior to the opening of the contest or the contest year itself.

Cities will have to show how they created the conditions for innovation by

  • experimenting innovative concepts, processes, tools, and governance models as a test-bed for innovation
  • engaging citizens in the innovation process and ensuring the uptake of their ideas
  • expanding the city's attractiveness to become a role model for other cities
  • empowering citizens by bringing concrete and measurable added value through the implementation of innovative practices

Applications are judged by a panel of independent experts from across Europe.

How to apply

Cities can apply for the contest online. The full details are explained in the following documents. 


For more information please contact us at

To subscribe to the monthly iCapital mailing, drop an email to the above address expressing your interest and allowing to receiving regular information about the contest.

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The timetable for the 2020 edition of the competition

  • 5 March 2020

    Contest opens

  • 23 June 2020

    Deadline for applications

  • 22 – 24 September 2020

    Announcement of iCapital 2020 and runners-up

Past competitions

iCapital 2020

Full details of the 2020 iCapital contest, the winner and runners-up

iCapital 2019

Full details of the 2019 iCapital contest, the winner and runners-up

iCapital 2018 , iCapital 2017 , iCapital 2016 , iCapital 2014