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  

Judging criteria

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

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, appointed under Horizon 2020 rules.

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 rtd-i-capital@ec.europa.eu


  • 22 February 2018

    Contest opens.

  • 21 June 2018

    Deadline for applications.

  • September 2018

    Finalists meet with jury of evaluators.

  • November 2018

    Winner and runners-up announced.


  • Wed 11 Apr
    INFORMAL Session

    iCapital Breakfast

    DG RTD, Square Frère Orban 8, 1040 Brussels

    The European Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) is organising an informal session on the iCapital 2018 contest on 11 April 2018, in Brussels.

    The session is open to everyone interested in this year's contest, and especially city representatives. The iCapital team will briefly present this year's contest. Representatives from the cities of Paris and Amsterdam, European Capital of Innovation in 2017 and 2016, will offer an insight into their iCapital experience – the contents and process behind their application, how winning iCapital helped their innovation activities, and more. 

  • Wed 25 Apr

    Open European Day

    Gustav-Strasmann Institute, Bonn, Germany

    European Environment Agency and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives are convening European cities and key adaptation voices at the 5th Open European Day to exchange and debate on the most pressing issues around climate adaptation and urban resilience. In sessions dedicated to collaborative adaptation cities will explore ways how citizen engagement can reinforce cities' adaptation and resilience capacity. Since the urban innovation represents an integrating part of the climate adaptation and resilience strategies, iCapital encourages cities to take part in the city to city exchange to explore new approaches in tackling on of the most pressing challenges. At the side of the event, you are welcome to visit our information stand and learn more about iCapital 2018.

Previous competitions

European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) 2017

European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) 2017

Full details of the 2017 iCapital contest, the winner, runners-up and links to all finalists.

European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) 2016

European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) 2016

Full details of the 2016 iCapital contest, the winner, runners-up and links to all finalist videos