The European Commission has yesterday started the search for the first European Capital of Innovation, or iCapital. The prize will reward the city which is building the best “innovation ecosystem”, connecting citizens, public organisations, academia, and business. Given that 68% of the EU population now lives in urban areas, it is these areas that will contribute the most to making Europe more innovative. Cities foster innovation in their own provision of services, but the key is to create the right environment for others to innovate and to allow the public and private spheres to connect. An independent panel of experts will select the winner in spring 2014, with the city chosen receiving €500000 towards scaling up its efforts. The deadline for applications is 3 December 2013.
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said: “Cities are the engines of the European economy. Seven out of 10 Europeans live in an urban area, and these regions generate two thirds of EU GDP. We want to encourage cities to raise their game when it comes to innovation, and create a network of cities which can share their best ideas for the future.”
Cities will be judged both on initiatives and achievements until now, as well as their future ideas to enhance innovative capacity. They will have to demonstrate that they are following a comprehensive strategy that is:
- Innovative – in terms of concepts, processes and tools.
- Inspiring – with the aim of attracting talent, funding, investment and citizens’ involvement and engagement.
- Integrated – demonstrating links with the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy, namely smart, sustainable and inclusive growth across Europe.
- Interactive – building a community for innovation within the city and with other cities.
The contest is open to cities in any EU Member State or country associated to the EU’s research framework programme. The award is for cities with over 100 000 inhabitants and for initiatives that have been running since at least 1 January 2010. In countries where there is no city with more than 100 000 inhabitants, the largest city is eligible to apply.
Innovation is central to economic growth and business competitiveness, and is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy. The European Union has set itself the goal of becoming an ‘Innovation Union’.
Through its research and innovation and regional policies, the EU has been promoting smart and sustainable urban development. The next EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, will run from 2014 to 2020. It will concentrate more than ever on funding the whole ‘innovation chain’, from scientific breakthrough to close-to-market development. Future EU regional funding will also focus more on research and innovation, for instance building research infrastructure.
Europe 2020 http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020
Horizon 2020 http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020
Regional funds http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy