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European Innovation Council

Padova (Italy)

The European Rising Innovative city - 2nd place: Padova (Italy)

Nighttime image capturing a fountain in a square in Padova.

Padova across tradition and future

Padova has been workshop of innovation through the centuries and nowadays it is living a new Renaissance age, thanks to ambitious investments.

With the first kiss in the history of the art painted by Giotto in the XIV century in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padova marks the beginning of its innovation process. Thanks to its mural paintings it is Unesco World Heritage site with Urbs Picta. The medieval Padova was again a breeding ground for innovation after the foundation of its university in 1222. Galileo Galilei taught at Padova University and he was also the first scientist translating the research results into practice: he invented the telescope. Tradition and innovation always work together as in our botanical garden, the oldest botanical garden in the world, UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its position in the middle of the Veneto region, its proximity to Venice and to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Dolomites makes Padova a melting pot of people and cultures. With its 210.000 inhabitants, 70.000 students and an urban area serving 500.000 persons it represents the “Big Padova”.

Booster of innovation

The city's great strength is its ecosystem of innovation, growing around the Municipality – soul of a global community, the University – expression of culture and international liveliness and the Chamber of Commerce – booster of economic development. The ecosystem is powered by the Innovation Council, a permanent round table representing public and private stakeholders and the academia, most of which are located in the Boulevard of Innovation, an open-air experimental area, where rising innovations are tested, implemented, and enriched.

Despite being relatively small, Padova is one of the capitals of innovation in Italy. In 2022, it counted 342 start-ups, an ever-increasing number, and 34% of patents filed in the Veneto Region. Also, the local concentration of ICT business companies, catalysts of new technologies and know-how development, is the highest in the north-east of Italy.

Green and digital transformation

As one of the European Mission Cities, Padova is focusing on sustainable innovation to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 and being city enabler to transfer best practices and solutions to other cities.

Mobility and micro-mobility new solutions are contributing to the environment sustainability and to innovative processes. Padova has a south-west tramway line which reduced the city traffic by 40%, and by late 2026 two additional lines will be completed; micro mobility vehicles like e-scooters and e-bikes reached 1mln rents per year. Next, an advanced smart transportation system based on modules which join and detach with other modules even while running, was piloted in Padova.

Mobility and environment data are collected in the MyData database which also stores data on social and public housing whereas the Social Welfare District is a service platform which provides a mapping of citizens in need of social support. The MyData services are transferred to the municipalities within Padova urban belt where Padova drives Sustainable Urban Development processes as Urban Authority in the Urban area that since 2021 counts 9 municipalities.

To enhance the quality of its digital services, Padova Municipality realized the digital twin of the boulevard of innovation, of the city centre and of its trees: on-site inspection are therefore expected to decrease by 80%. As a result, Padova digital services complement with new and existing services of artificial intelligence and lead a data driven decision policy.

Open innovation

Continuous experimentation is driving the city escalation and expansion to make ideas become real in a joint partnership with the University, public and private innovators. Promoting an inclusive access to innovation and playing a role model for other territories takes its shape on the ground with several local events.

TEDx Padova, a community-driven initiative, encourages innovative ideas’ sharing.  In 2023, TEDx Padova celebrated its 10th anniversary and hosted more than 1.500 people. Another important event born in Padova is City Vision, a set of talks which brings together public administrators sharing best practices and private stakeholders offering technological solutions for smart cities. Last but not least, Galileo Festival della Scienza e Innovazione festival reached its 11th edition in 2023: it has a scientific structure and attracts people from all over Italy.

One city, one vision

Sustainability through the achievement of Net Zero City goals, digital transformation of the city into a European Smart City and the Big Padova as a paradigm for a magnetic city represent the pillars of Padova innovative vision.

“Excellent cities attract ambitious people”, said Paul Graham. To overcome the problem of polarization toward large cities, Padova will be more and more attractive.

In one word, Padova is a Magnetic city!