It wasn’t just a high-profile startups and entrepreneurs in the spotlight at this week’s Web Summit: The City of Paris came away as one of the stars as well, bringing home top honors in the European Commission’s iCapital Award competition to recognize Europe’s most innovative cities. The award includes a prize of €1,000,000 which will be used to scale up and further expand the city’s innovation efforts.
Among the other ten finalists for the award were Nice and Toulouse. Tallinn (Estonia) and Tel Aviv (Israel) were selected as runners-up, and were both awarded €100,000.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, announced the results at the Web Summit in Lisbon. He said. “Cities are not defined by their size and population, but by the breadth of their vision and the power bestowed upon their citizens. Some cities are not afraid to experiment. They are not afraid to involve their citizens in developing and testing out new ideas. These are the cities that empower their citizens. Today we are here to acknowledge these cities.”
Commissioner Moedas added: “This year’s competition has been particularly tough. The outstanding achievements of all competitors are great examples of the vital importance of our innovation ecosystems and participation of citizens in Europe.”
The award recognized the fact that over the last decade, Paris has built more than 100 000 square meters of incubators, and hosts now the world’s largest start-up campus, Station F. In addition, the city spends 5% of its budget on projects proposed and implemented by citizens.
Award representatives cited the Reinventing Paris project as a good example of how the city facilitates innovation by inviting national and international talents to rebuild many of its significant sites. In the current phase of the project, the city is inviting interdisciplinary teams to submit innovative urban development projects for transforming a number of underground sites in Paris.
Nice was recognized for its unique location and its smart and sustainable city strategy deployed from a coastal city to mountain villages that enables citizens to become actors of a living lab. Its focus on the challenges of climate change, resilience to environmental and security risks, and healthy ageing were noted. Toulouse promoted it co-creation approach to innovative projects by participatory governance and collaborative practices in 5 innovation hubs and how it empowers its citizens and local players.
The 2017 European Capital of Innovation award competition was launched in March 2017 for cities with over 100,000 inhabitants from EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon 2020. Thirty-two cities from seventeen countries applied to this year’s competition. The winner and the two runners-up have been selected from ten finalists on the basis of new initiatives launched since 1 January 2016. The winners were chosen by a panel of independent experts coming from universities and the business sector. The evaluators were selected from the Horizon 2020 expert database.
The award criteria focused on cities that are willing to be test-beds for new citizens-driven initiatives to find solutions for their relevant societal challenges. The awards are granted under Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation framework program. The competition for the 2018 European Capital of Innovation is due to be launched in the first quarter of 2018.