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European Innovation Council
The European Capital of Innovation Awards

An annual recognition prize awarded to the European cities that best promote innovation in their communities

2022 edition



The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) is an annual recognition prize awarded to the European cities that best promote innovation in their communities.

Cities are faced with some of the most severe societal and sustainability challenges but do also have the means to overcome them by developing and applying effective innovative solutions.

They are the place where ideas, people, public and private actors meet and engage among themselves to improve the life quality of the society. They are the natural playground where breakthrough innovation flourishes as cities provide ground to experiment with new technologies and products in a real environment.

In particular, the eighth edition recognises the cities’ contribution to developing local innovation ecosystems for the benefit of game-changing innovation and the wellbeing of the public.


Discover last year’s winners and finalists


In 2022, the European Capital of Innovation Awards features two categories:

  • The European Capital of Innovation category that addresses cities with a population of minimum 250 000 inhabitants and rewards the winner with EUR 1 000 000 and two runners-up with EUR 100 000 each.
  • The European Rising Innovative City category that targets towns and cities with a population of 50 000 and up to 249 999 inhabitants and rewards the winner with EUR 500 000 and two runners-up with EUR 50 000 each.

Funding opportunities

The 2022 calls are closed now (deadline 30 June 2022, 17.00 CET) 

EIC Work Programme 2022 featuring the full iCapital Awards call text.

Who should apply

Any city can apply to only one of the two categories as long as it:

  • has at least 50 000 inhabitants (please see further details and exceptions in the Rules of contest)
  • is located in an EU Member State or an Associated Country to Horizon European Commission

Eligibility criteria

  1. The candidate cities must be located in one of the Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries.
  2. For the category of European Capital of Innovation, the candidate city must have a minimum population of 250 000 inhabitants. In countries where there are no such cities, the city coming closest to 250 000 inhabitants is eligible to apply for the European Capital of Innovation category, provided that it has a minimum population of 50 000 inhabitants and that the city did not apply for the European Rising Innovative City category.
  3. The candidate cities for the European Rising Innovative City category must have a population of 50 000 and up to 249 999 inhabitants.
  4. Winners of former European Capital of Innovation Awards editions, as well as runners-up of both 2021 edition categories are not eligible. This does not apply to previous finalist cities.
  5. Applicants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.

Award criteria

  1. Experimenting – innovative concepts, processes, tools, and governance models proving the city's commitment to act as a test-bed for innovative practices, while ensuring the mainstreaming of these practices into the ordinary urban development process.
  2. Escalating – accelerating the growth of highly innovative start-ups and SMEs by establishing an innovation friendly legal framework, creating an environment that stimulates growth, private and public investments, resources, diversity and talents; and driving innovation demand through efficient innovation public procurement.
  3. Ecosystem building – unlocking cities potential as local innovation ecosystem facilitators by fostering synergies among different innovation ecosystem players, from public, industry, start-ups, civil society, the general public to academia, to contribute to the development of an innovation ecosystem within the city.
  4. Expanding – acting as a role model for other cities by supporting the dissemination and replication of tested solutions that boost the local innovation ecosystem; by promoting mutual learning, knowledge transfer and capacity building; and by enhancing cooperation and synergies between cities that are front-runners in driving the local innovation ecosystem, and those that are still exploring and testing their role as innovation enablers.
  5. City innovative vision – applicants should demonstrate their long-term strategic vision/plan, highlighting the innovative initiatives that have positively contributed to the transformation of the city and which will further support the development of a sustainable and resilient innovation ecosystem ensuring the green and digital transition.


How to apply

Please consult the following documents before submitting your application through the links above.

You can access the application form by clicking the "Start submission" button  of the relevant call on the Funding & tenders opportunity portal.



  1. 3 March 2022
    Call opening
  2. 30 June 2022 – 17:00:00 CET
    Deadline for submission
  3. July - October 2022
  4. Q4 2022
    Information on evaluation results & award

Guidelines for applicants

On 28 April 2022, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) has organised an informative webinar to learn more about the The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital).

The recording and the presentation from the webinar are available below. 

PPT - ICapital
(8.92 MB - PDF)


Previous editions

Find full details on the winners and runners-up of iCapital 2021 and all other previous eiditons. 




Contact us

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The European Innovation Council invites the EIC funded projects to join this open call aiming at creating an interactive exhibition during the EIC Summit, taking place on 07-08 December 2022 in Brussels.