The lucky winner also receives 1 million euros from the European Commission to implement innovative projects
As of today, following the announcement of the winner of the iCapital 2020 Award at a special ceremony part of the European Research & Innovation Days, Leuven can officially call itself the European Capital of Innovation. The award was virtually handed over to the mayor of the Flemish city Mohamed Ridouani by EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.
Innovation is a collective sport
What many already knew or suspected has now finally become official: Leuven is the European city that makes the best use of innovation to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. However, beating cities like Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Espoo (Finland), Helsingborg (Sweden), Valencia (Spain) and Vienna (Austria) was no mean feat, making for an even more joyous occasion.
"This is a great recognition of the cooperation model that Leuven uses in many ways to tackle major societal challenges", said Mayor Ridouani upon being presented the award. The application of Leuven is a joint venture of the city authorities and local actors such as Leuven MindGate and Leuven 2030, but it could not have been possible without the active involvement of knowledge institutions and residents, reiterated the mayor. He also expressed his hope that the efforts will continue in the same direction, so that Leuven joins the ranks of the most sustainable, social and prosperous cities in Europe.
In particular, the expert jury appreciated Leuven’s excellent innovation concepts as well as processes and governance models creating a framework that brings ideas to life. Leuven’s ambition is to become one of Europe’s Labs of the Future. For this purpose, different stakeholders come together to tackle challenges ranging from climate change, to the shift to a circular economy, to ensuring high-quality education and care in innovative ways.
Furthermore, it was explained that Leuven is not only providing increased opportunities for innovation to its citizens, but is also actively involving them in testing their ideas. This happens through many projects, among which Leuven 2030 – a partnership of 600 members which includes a roadmap to carbon neutrality; Leuven MindGate - a unique innovation ecosystem that makes Leuven one of the world's prime regions for health, high-tech and creativity and more.
Learn more about what makes Leuven so special in the video below:
“The emotion is strong when you are with the mayors of the finalist cities for the European Innovation Capital 2020 award.”, said Commissioner Gabriel. “I am pleased to award the title of the city of Leuven, Belgium, in recognition of its excellent innovative concepts, as well as the innovative models of administrative management that enable the realization of ideas.”
The prize of 1 million euros is funded under Horizon 2020 programme. It recognizes the excellent initiatives of European cities, providing opportunities to strengthen local innovation ecosystems for business development. The other five finalist cities will each receive EUR 100,000 for promoting and expanding their innovation practices.
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