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European Innovation Council
News article7 March 20233 min read

European Capital of Innovation Awards: 2023 edition kicks off

The Commission launched today the ninth edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital).The prize is awarded to European cities that are front-runners of innovations that benefit their citizens.

iCapital 2023

The European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital), supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) under Horizon Europe, recognise those European cities that open their governance practices to experimentation and aim at being role models for other cities, by pushing the boundaries of technology for the benefit of their citizens.

The launch of this edition took place in the context of a study visit of Jean David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, to the city of Haarlem (The Netherlands), the European Rising Innovative city 2022.  

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

Cities play a key role in creating a supportive and inclusive ecosystem, where innovation is designed to benefit its citizens. A place where technology, innovation, learning and knowledge are fostered by bringing together different partners, from civil society and universities to local businesses, SMEs or start-ups. The 2023 European Capital of Innovation Awards are now open for applications and we are looking for the most innovative European cities that work to create an inclusive and sustainable  way of living.

The contest will award a total of six prizes for two categories: the European Capital of Innovation and the Rising Innovative City.

The city winning the 2023 European Capital of Innovation title will receive €1 million. Moreover, the first two runners-up of this category will be rewarded with €100 000 each.

In the Rising Innovative City category, the winner will be rewarded with €500 000 accompanied by two runners-up that will receive €50 000 each.

Moreover, all winners and runners up will be invited to join the EIC Prizes Alumni network, a prestigious group of previous iCapital winners, to exchange knowledge, best practices, and look for solutions to common challenges.

The competition is open to cities with a minimum of 50 000 inhabitants from EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon Europe. Two high-level juries of independent experts will evaluate how the applicant cities are pushing the boundaries of innovation by looking at the following criteria:

  • Experimenting to make the city a testbed for innovative practices;
  • Escalating and accelerating the growth of start-ups and SMEs;
  • Ecosystem building and fostering of synergies among the public sector, industry, academia, and the citizens;
  • Expanding the city’s innovation capacity to become a role model for other cities;
  • City innovative vision that positively transforms the city and develops a sustainable innovation ecosystem.

Further details and exceptions can be consulted in the rules of contest.

The contest is open for applications from 8 March until 29 June 2023 (17:00:00 CET). Links to the Funding & Tenders portal will be available on the iCapital webpage on the 8 March.

An online info session for potential applicants is scheduled on 28 March, registrations are open


Supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) under Horizon Europe, this is the ninth edition of the prestigious European Capital of Innovation Awards also known as iCapital.

Through iCapital, the European Union recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems. The prize identifies cities that promote the connections and synergies between the different actors of the ecosystems (such as academia, citizens, or businesses) to successfully translate results into improved wellbeing of the society, while at the same time boosting groundbreaking innovation.

The prize first took place in 2014. Past winners include Barcelona (2014), Amsterdam (2016), Paris (2017), Athens (2018), Nantes (2019), Leuven (2020), Dortmund (2021), Vantaa (2021 Rising innovative city), Aix-Marseille Provence Metropole (2022), and Haarlem (2022 Rising Innovative city).

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


Publication date
7 March 2023


The European Capital of Innovation 2023

The European Capital of Innovation 2023
The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency
EISMEA-ICAPITALatec [dot] europa [dot] eu