Dortmund is one of the most exciting innovation cities in the European Union

Dortmund is Germany’s first Capital of Innovation

Dortmund is Germany’s first Capital of Innovation

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was supposed to attend the live ceremony, however, the event was cancelled at the last minute due to COVID-19

On 2 February, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was supposed to give out the iCapital (European Capital of Innovation) Award at a ceremony in Dortmund, which is the new laureate. Unfortunately, the Commissioner had to cancel at the last minute, due to fears of a Covid-infection.

Nevertheless, the award puts Dortmund in a unique position as one of Europe's most exciting cities for innovation this year and, probably, for the near future. 

The visit that did not come to pass

The award was originally granted back in November of 2021 during an online ceremony, making Dortmund the first German European Capital of Innovation, beating out Dublin, Brussels, Vilnius and more in the finals.

This came as welcomed recognition of the city’s efforts to create favourable conditions for the development of innovations. The award is also followed by a grant of one million euros, which can be used to boost the sector further. 

During her visit, Commissioner Gabriel was supposed to meet with Mayor Thomas Westphal, as well as representatives of leading start-ups and tech organisations. She was also supposed to meet with leading investors in the innovations ecosystem in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

Home-grown innovations from north-western Germany

One of the flagship projects of local authorities is Smart City Dortmund, combining sustainable energy initiatives with digitalisation. It offers local businesses, scientists and civil society a chance to work together in a collaborative lab.

Another influential initiative is ‘Dortmund. Eine Stadt. Viel Wissen’ (One city. Lots of knowledge), an initiative focused on harnessing the 54,000 students and nearly 10,000 employees in non-university research institutions like the Max Planck Society.  The central goal of the initiative is to make science more visible to urban society.

The ingenuity does not stop here, as the city took advantage of pandemic measures in 2020 and developed an online platform where residents can help reshape a central point in the city - the Dortmund Central Rail Station’s park. Authorities created an online tool open to contributions from citizens, who had the chance to shape the park's project. The latter can be described as a textbook example of the democratic power of digitalisation.

Energy Campus designA mockup of the Energy Campus design, Source: City of Dortmund

In addition, the city decided to upgrade a portion of its harbour, turning it into a mixed tech and artistic district, offering both high quality of work and high quality of life. The concept is called ‘Quartier für alle!’ (Quarter for everyone!) and it takes advantage of the riverfront, as well as a multitude of green spaces. The space is complemented by a smooth transition between taller corporate buildings and smaller buildings, offering enough light and a view of the sky.

There are even more exciting projects dotting the city, including SMART RHINO one of the largest urban development projects in the city, and Energy Campus, dedicated to research and innovation in the sector and many more.



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New European Bauhaus




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