The European Commission has awarded the European Capital of Innovation (“iCapital”) prize to Barcelona (Spain) “for introducing the use of new technologies to bring the city closer to citizens”. Barcelona was chosen by a panel of independent experts in a close competition with Grenoble (France) and Groningen (The Netherlands). The €500,000 iCapital prize (IP/13/808) will be used to scale up and expand Barcelona’s efforts on innovation. Barcelona was announced as the winner today at the closing ceremony of the Innovation Convention 2014, Europe’s premier innovation event (#EUIC2014).
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said:
Barcelona is a deserving winner of the first iCapital award, for its dedication to using new technology for the benefit of its inhabitants. Still, there were many other great initiatives and proposals, and I want cities and regions to join together and share their experiences. Outstanding initiatives at the local level will contribute to keep turning the European Union into an Innovation Union.
In September 2011 Barcelona’s city council launched the “Barcelona as a people city” project by introducing the use of new technologies to foster economic growth and the welfare of its citizens through:
- Open data initiatives, offering valuable information to individuals and private companies;
- Sustainable city growth initiatives on smart lighting, mobility (e-vehicle) and residual energy (heating and cooling networks);
- Social innovation;
- Promotion of alliances between research centres, universities, private and public partners within the scope of the project;
- Providing better ‘smart services’ in a flexible, continuous and agile way through ICT –used as means to launch innovation in different areas of the city.
Innovation is central to economic growth and business competitiveness, and is at the heart of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy. Two thirds of the EU population now lives in urban areas. These areas therefore have a key role to play in making Europe more innovative, and making these areas more innovative makes them a better place to live.
With the European Capital of Innovation Award, the Commission is recognising those cities which are making major efforts to promote innovation and improving the quality of their citizens’ lives.