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European Innovation Council

Second place: Málaga (Spain)

The European Capital of Innovation category - second place: i3-Malaga, technological and social innovation with and for citizens.

Málaga, located in southern Spain in Costa del Sol (Andalusia), stands out as a city where economic, social, climatological and cultural synergies converge, making it one of the most attractive cities in Europe to live in. In the last months of 2021, some world-class leading companies have chosen Malaga to locate their new Innovation Centers: Google, Vodafone, Dekra and Globant.

Since the first city plan in 1996, institutions have shared a common strategy that has converted the city into a modern, dynamic, well-connected, and competitive urban center; ready to take on the challenges of the future. The main pillars of this joint strategy are: a city of culture and tourism, talent and knowledge, socially inclusive and sustainable. The final and most important element of Malaga´s transformation is innovation.

Málaga works in a quadruple helix ecosystem between companies, universities, administration/city council, and incorporates citizens at the center, as a key factor for success.

The Smart Campus Project of the University of Malaga has managed to generate experimentation through interdisciplinary groups, students, teachers, researchers, to find solutions to the real challenges and problems of the city highlighting: Galileo Masters, a competition of ideas for projects using satellite positioning; Copernicus Masters, solutions for business based on Earth observation data; or the RETAME, to promote practices that are beneficial to the environment and social awareness.

The city has been able to combine state-of-the-art technological capabilities provided by stakeholders such as the Malaga TechPark - with more than 600 multinational innovative companies and 20.000 technological international workers - or 12 business incubators, among which is the National Digital Content Pole, with more than 250 startups.

Looking to the future, it is worth highlighting Academia 42 by Telefónica Foundation, a free educational space for training programmers, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without teachers and without classes. The city is also active in EU funded innovation projects such as Smart City, ZEM2ALL, Automost, Covid respirators and PCR Robots.