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European Innovation Council
News article5 March 2024European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency3 min read

European Capital of Innovation Awards 2024 now open for applications!

The European Commission launched today the tenth 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.

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.

Jean David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, launched this edition in a ceremony in Linköping (Sweden), the European Rising Innovative city 2023.

Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said:

European Capital of Innovation Awards celebrate cities that use innovation to reshape the urban landscape, tackle demographic and economic challenges and put citizens at the heart of their decision-making processes. Through spotlighting shining examples of creating a better future for people through innovation, the awards are a beacon for the green and digital transition in Europe. This will be the 10th edition of the awards, and I encourage all eligible cities to apply.

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 2024 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.

All winners and runners up will be invited to join the EIC Prizes Alumni network, a prestigious group of previous iCapital winners, to share their knowledge, discuss common challenges, and work together to find solutions.

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.
  • Citizens’ rights – the use of innovation to strengthen democracy, to protect citizens' rights, to foster social cohesion, and ensure integration with a special view on minorities, gender, disability, or race.

Further details can be consulted in the rules of contest.

The contest is open for applications from 5 March (00:00 CET) until 18 June 2024 (17:00 CET):

An online info session for potential applicants is scheduled on 9 April, you can register on the dedicated webpage


Supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) under Horizon Europe, this is the tenth 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 ground-breaking innovation.

Past winners are: Barcelona (2014), Amsterdam (2016), Paris (2017), Athens (2018), Nantes (2019), Leuven (2020), Dortmund (2021), and Aix-Marseille Provence Metropole (2022), and Lisbon (2023) as European Capitals of Innovation.

Past winners in the Rising Innovative city category are: Vantaa (2021), Haarlem (2022), and Linkoping (2023).

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.


Publication date
5 March 2024
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency