Skip to main content
European Innovation Council

València (Spain)

The European Capital of Innovation - 3rd place: València (Spain)


València, the European city that drives innovation with a single purpose: to improve people’s lives and understands innovation as a collective journey, rather than an individual destination. The reason is simple: OUR FUTURE IS A SHARED MISSION.

Generation after generation, Valencian citizens have inherited a shared mission (#OnAMissionTogether) that has turned Valencia into a city that has been able to reinvent itself and prove its resilience in the face of any event.

The Spanish city, recently awarded as European Green Capital 2024, has social and collective innovation in its DNA and its ability to anticipate has helped it to overcome any challenge that has come its way.

A city innovative vision for experimenting

Valencia proposes the merging of the 2030 Agenda with the European mission-oriented innovation as the two sides of the same coin, working in a systemic way:

  • On one hand, the 2030 Agenda enables courageous public policies to drive urban transformations.
  • On the other, Mission-oriented innovation coming from the whole ecosystem enables them to tackle the greatest complexities through risk taking and developing new ways of thinking and doing things.

València Climate Mission makes València a test-bed city for the European Mission Cities, to achieve 112 smart & climate-neutral cities by 2030. València offers to the entire innovation ecosystem the infrastructure of the city to develop disruptive innovation on green, digital and fair transitions that could impact on the mission and on the main urban development processes.

When innovation works and creates public value, València scales solutions to public policies and neighbourhoods.

Disruptive innovation with a wide social and political consensus

Upon a wide social consensus on what the relevant areas to focus R&I are, Valencia approved its mission-oriented R&I governance model and the Climate Mission with a wide political consensus. 31 out of 33 councilors approved the Climate Mission. To build consensus and to go beyond political cycles are key issues. Valencia’s case has been recognized as one of the 8 best rated cases in the world of how mission-driven innovation practice.

But all this disruptive innovation doesn’t happen by itself. An innovation-friendly legal framework, an environment that stimulates growth and building a local innovation ecosystem are needed.

València is national talent factory with 8 universities and more than 3 500 engineers per year.

València offers two main city living labs: La Marina de València and the Polytechnical University offer more than 1.7 million m2 to test and escalate innovation projects.

València is the first city in Europe to redirect Public Procurement of Innovation towards 8 global challenges directly linked to the Climate Mission. Innovation ecosystem has offered an amazing answer with 161 innovative proposals.

The fastest growing innovation ecosystem

Therefore, València has the fastest-growing innovation ecosystem in Spain. Entrepreneurs and the innovation ecosystem have a solid network of more than 30 accelerators and incubators, 40 investment funds, and a great representation of international companies.

Start-up creation has been growing by a 20% each year since 2012, and the survival rate of companies beyond three years has evolved from a 40% to 90% in this period. Valencia has increased their private investment in technology by 60% compared to last year. Additionally, València is the city for female entrepreneurship. More than 39% of the start-ups are founded by women, improving the Spanish rate by a 10%.

An example of civic engagement and role city model

They know that nothing relevant can be achieved alone. An alliance for the mission has been created to integrate all the forces of the innovation ecosystem: public sector, private sector, academia, civil society and media. Nowadays, Valencia city has more than 150 ambassadors' organisations engaged, most of them business and civic associations representing almost 20 000 companies and professionals.

The city has developed about 1000 projects, implying more than 16 000 partners and around than €400 million.

They believe that their city must take risks in their vision for the future, must be lighthouses for others and overall, must be test-bed cities of how innovation helps to solve the great complexities the people and societies in Europe are facing.

Because these complexities require every society, every city, every organisation and every person to give their best.

They have been doing this with hard work and humility since long time ago, generation after generation (see the innovation time capsule): from grandparents to parents and from parents to children… on a mission together.