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 rtd-i-capital@ec.europa.eu

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.


  • 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 23 May

EU Green week - Great awards for great cities: does your city have what it takes?

BluePoint, Blvd A. Reyers 80, Brussels
(Vesalius Room, 14:30 to 16:00)

Nearly 80% of Europe's citizens live in urban areas, making our cities not only the centre of knowledge, social movements and economic activity, but also places most affected by of major environmental and social challenges. Some cities stand out by taking bold measures to make their city better places to live, play, visit, work and grow old.

The European Commission recognises the important role local governments play in this process by rewarding cities that do particularly well in diverse areas, from fair and ethical trade, accessibility, environmental sustainability and transport, tourism, to culture and - of course! - innovation.

Join EU Green Week for a speed-pitching session to learn more about the Commission's range of City Awards and check whether your city has what it takes to receive one of these prestigious EU awards. During and after the session, Commission's awards managers will be on hand to give you all the information you could need, sharing the do's and don’ts, the tips and tricks, and highlighting the benefits of receiving an EU city award.

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.

Past 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