Skip to main content
European Innovation Council
News article5 November 20212 min read

​​​​​​​European Capital of Innovation Awards 2021: finalists announced!

Seven cities made it to the final round of the seventh edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards. They have a chance to become the 2021 European Capital of Innovation and the first-ever European Rising Innovative City.

iCapital Prizes

The two high-level juries of independent experts selected seven finalists for both iCapital categories after a very intense selection process that included remote interviews with sixteen semi-finalist cities. Watch their promotional videos.

The finalists of this year’s edition are listed below in alphabetical order and divided into two categories.

  • The European Rising Innovative City 
    • Cascais (Portugal)
    • Trondheim (Norway)
    • Vantaa (Finland)


  • The European Capital of Innovation:
    • Dortmund (Germany)
    • Dublin (Ireland)
    • Malaga (Spain)
    • Vilnius (Lithuania)


Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

The finalist cities test new innovative concepts on a large scale and join the group of pioneering cities that actively push boundaries of urban innovation These cities can be  an inspiration for others to make the community of innovative cities grow. I am looking forward to announcing this year’s European Capital of Innovation Awards winners at the first edition of the European Innovation Council Summit on 24 November.

Supported by the European Innovation Council under Horizon Europe, the prize recognises the European cities for their most innovative city practices in the framework of a developed, multi-faceted, well-functioning city innovation ecosystem that boosts game-changing innovation. Check the award criteria.

What happens next?

The winners and runners-up of each category will be announced at the EIC Summit on 24 November 2021.

Apart from the prestigious recognition, the European Capital of Innovation category winner will receive a prize of €1,000,000, while two runner-up places are rewarded with EUR 100 000 each.

Moreover, the winner of the European Rising Innovative City category will be awarded EUR 500 000 with two runner-up places receiving EUR 50 000 each.

All semi-finalists will be invited to join a group of pioneering cities that actively push boundaries of urban innovation.


Supported by the European Innovation Council under Horizon Europe, the seventh edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards closed on Thursday 15 July. The call received 39 applications from across European Union and Horizon Europe Associated Countries.

Every year, the European Union recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems by awarding the recognition prize European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital). The awards identify urban ecosystems that connect citizens, the public sector, academia, and business, and successfully translate their results into improved wellbeing of their citizens, while boosting game-changing innovation.

iCapital is one of the four EIC Prizes granted under Horizon Europe, the EU's research and innovation framework programme.

The prize first took place in 2014. Past winners include Barcelona (2014), Amsterdam (2016), Paris (2017), Athens (2018), Nantes (2019) and Leuven (2020).

Apart from the main category, the European Capital of Innovation (cities with more than 250 000 inhabitants), this year includes a new category The European Rising Innovative City that targets towns and cities with a population of more than 50 000 and up to 249 999 inhabitants.

The prize is managed by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, and the winners are chosen following an assessment performed by two high-level independent expert juries.




Publication date
5 November 2021