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European Innovation Council

Meet the winners of the 2021 European Capital of Innovation Awards

On 24 November, at the Award Ceremony held during the European Innovation Council Summit, the European Commission announced the winners of the seventh edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards.

The seventh edition of iCapital awarded the German city of Dortmund as the European Capital of Innovation 2021, joined by Dublin (Ireland) and Málaga (Spain) who shared the second prize, whilst Vilnius (Lithuania) finished in the third position.

Apart from the prestigious recognition, Dortmund was rewarded with EUR 1 000 000 whilst the second and third places received EUR 100 000 each. The second ranked prize was equally divided to the two cities ranked on this place.

The European Rising Innovative City category was won by Vantaa (Finland), whilst Cascais (Portugal) and Trondheim (Norway) were granted the second and third places. The winner of this category was rewarded with EUR 500 000 whilst the second and third places received EUR 50 000 each.

This competition is funded under Horizon Europe and managed by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA).

The European Capital of Innovation category

Winner: Dortmund

Dortmund is young German innovation location in the heart of Europe, with a coherent, grown innovation network that includes social, cultural as well as technological innovations: an innovation ecosystem, built on trust and solidarity.

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Second place: Dublin

Dublin is a champion for innovation; a city that promotes and facilitates the collaboration of diverse stakeholders and enables innovation ecosystems to prosper.

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Second place: Málaga (Spain)

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.

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Third place: Vilnius (Lithuania)

Highly driven by experimentation, flexibility and openness, Vilnius is proving that its long-term VILNIUS 2IN innovation strategy can enable the city’s entire ecosystem to foster change and develop innovative solutions to maximise consumer returns. Making residents happy is one of the city’s official performance indicators. 

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The Rising Innovative City category

Winner: Vantaa (Finland)

Vantaa is a true rising city. The city has grown in 50 years from a small rural town to the fourth largest city in Finland, and today it is the fastest growing city in the country. To keep the growth sustainable both socially and ecologically, Vantaa has had to be innovative and use its resources flexibly, together with all stakeholders and networks.

EIC Summit 2021 interview

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Second place: Cascais (Portugal)

Cascais has always grounded its experience and growth on experimentation and innovation processes, by developing ideas, prototyping and replicating good practices. A long established practice of participatory citizenship models combined with Big Data analysis and ICT development are a consistent part of its community’s nature. 

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Third place: Trondheim (Norway)

Trondheim finds opportunities for Sustainable Value Creation by innovating its approach to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This approach has made the city a UN Centre of Excellence on SDG City Transitions.

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All finalists