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 playground where breakthrough innovation can flourish. With their capacity to connect people, places, public and private actors, urban areas can substantially enhance innovation in Europe, improve the quality of citizens' lives and provide ground to experiment with new technologies and products in a real environment.
The European Capital of Innovation Awards is an annual recognition prize awarded to the European cities that best promote innovation in their communities.
In particular, the seventh edition will recognise the cities’ contribution to developing local innovation ecosystems for the benefit of innovators and the wellbeing of their citizens.
The awards are aimed at rewarding the most innovative city practices in the framework of a developed, multi-faceted, well-functioning city innovation ecosystem that boosts game-changing innovation.
In 2021, the European Capital of Innovation Awards will feature two categories:
- The European Capital of Innovation category 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 one.
- The European Rising Innovative City category 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 one.
Applications to the 2021 edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards are now open.
The deadline for submissions is 17:00 (CET) on 15 July 2021. All applications must be submitted via the Funding and Tenders Portal
Who should apply?
A city can apply as long as it:
- has at least 50 000 inhabitants (please see all exceptions in the eligibility criteria of the Rules of Contest)
- is in an EU Member State or an Associated Country to Horizon Europe
The jury will assess how the city implements innovative solutions that shape the local innovation ecosystem that boosts game-changing innovation.
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
- Escalating and accelerating the growth of highly innovative start-ups and SMEs
- Shaping the local innovation ecosystem through Ecosystem building actions that foster synergies among different innovation ecosystem players ranging from public, industry, civil society, citizens to academia
- Expanding the city's attractiveness to become a role model for other cities
- Demonstrating the long-term strategic city innovative vision
More information about each criterion is available in the Rules of Contest and Frequently Asked Questions documents.
How to apply
Cities can apply for the contest online. The full details are explained in the following documents:
- 18 March 2021Contest open
- 15 July 2021Deadline for applications
- Fourth quarter of 2021Announcement of iCapital 2021 winners and runners-up
For more information please contact us at EISMEA-ICAPITAL@ec.europa.eu