Urenio Watch Watch: Innovative Cities & Regions

The European Commission awards Paris as most innovative European city in 2017

On 7 November 2017, the European Commission awarded the 2017 European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) prize of €1,000,000 to Paris (France). The iCapital award, granted under the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, recognises Paris for its inclusive innovation strategy. Tallinn (Estonia) and Tel Aviv (Israel) were selected as runners-up, and were both awarded €100,000. The prize money will be used to scale up and further expand the cities’ innovation efforts.

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.”

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. In addition, the city spends 5% of its budget on projects proposed and implemented by citizens. Thanks to this strategy, citizens and innovators from the private, non-profit and academic sectors have made Paris become a true FabCity.

The Reinventing Paris project is 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.

Tallinn has been awarded for its initiative to act as a testing ground for potential breakthrough technologies. The municipality fostered the use of self-driving cars, parcel delivery robots and ride-sharing. Tallinn has also implemented an innovative e-Residency system, which enables local citizens and businesses to work closely together with foreign entrepreneurs.

Tel Aviv has set up a Smart City Urban Lab that links up innovative start-ups with leading technology companies in order to facilitate breakthrough innovations for solving urban challenges. Education being among Tel Aviv’s priorities, part of the prize will be dedicated to strengthening the Smart Education Initiative, developed by the municipality in collaboration with teachers, parents, students and local tech start-ups.


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 competition first took place in 2014. The awards are granted under Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation framework programme with a budget of €77 billion over seven years (2014-2020). The competition for the 2018 European Capital of Innovation is due to be launched in the first quarter of 2018.

Read the press release here.