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The European Capital of Innovation ‘iCapital’ Award


Get ready for the second European Capital of Innovation Award!

Two thirds of the EU population lives in urban areas. With the European Capital of Innovation Award, the Commission recognises those cities which are making major efforts to promote innovation and improving the quality of their citizens’ lives.

After the success of the first edition of the European Capital of Innovation Award in 2013-2014, the European Commission will launch a second, even more ambitious, edition in July 2015.

The award will continue to celebrate the European city which is building the best “innovation ecosystem”- connecting citizens, public organisations, academia, and business - with a view to helping the city scale up its efforts in this field.

This time, three prizes will be awarded:

  • 1st prize:
€950 000
  • 2nd prize:
€100 000
  • 3rd prize:
€50 000

The winning cities will be selected by an independent panel of experts in early 2016.

More information: Horizon 2020 Work Programme PDF icon 1.4 MB


The contest will be open to cities from European Member States and Countries associated to Horizon 2020 (the EU's research and innovation programme) which have over 100 000 inhabitants at the time of submitting this application.

Cities will be judged on the basis of initiatives they have already taken since 1 January 2012, as well as their ideas to enhance innovative capacity in the future.

More detailed contest rules will be published when the contest is launched.


The first European Capital of Innovation Award

Photo from the award ceremony Xavier Trias (on the left), Mayor of Barcelona, receiving the Award from European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn

58 cities from all over Europe applied to become the first European Capital of Innovation. The winning city, Barcelona (Spain), was chosen by a panel of independent experts in a close competition with Grenoble (France) and Groningen (The Netherlands) and awarded during the Innovation Convention in March 2014.

The prize went to Barcelona "for introducing the use of new technologies to bring the city closer to citizens". The €500,000 prize is being used to scale up and expand Barcelona's efforts on innovation.


Read the press release : Barcelona is "iCapital" of Europe

EN (Other available languages: FR DE ES NL )


Supporting cities to improve their innovation strategies

The European Commission has partnered up with the European Centre for Government Transformation (a joint initiative between Accenture, The Lisbon Council and The College of Europe) to support the work of four cities which were finalists in the first European Capital of Innovation competition (Barcelona, Groningen, Paris and Espoo).

Four "case studies" are being prepared. The goal is to:

  • help these leading cities public administrations to better understand their public sector challenges and improve their innovation strategies
  • facilitate best practise exchanges at a European level, and develop public policy recommendations
  • allow students from the College of Europe to refine their analytical skills and use their knowledge on a truly inspiring project


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