The European Commission has deemed the Belgian city of Leuven as the continent’s capital of Innovation.
The award was given to the city due to its numerous innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life of its citizens. The municipality of Leuven was also lauded for its tremendous efforts in encouraging collaboration amongst citizens.
The prize will ensure that €1m is given to the city which is funded by Horizon 2020, the research and innovation program under the EU.
The five runner-up cities would also receive an award of €100,000 and these cities include Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Espoo (Finland), Helsingborg (Sweden), Valencia (Spain) and Vienna (Austria).
Leuven is the third non-capital city (after Nantes and Barcelona) to have ever won this award. The city has been relentless in working hard to become Europe’s Labs of the Future through an operating model which essentially enhances collaboration through innovation.
Various groups of stakeholders mobilize with a common aim, to use innovation to deal with some of the complex challenges that the city is faced with. This ensures smarter cities and citizens.
Commenting on this, mayor Mohamed Ridouani, said, “Our innovation model goes beyond technological progress. Together with residents, organizations, businesses and knowledge institutions we are working every day towards a better future- for Leuven and far beyond.”
“This type of in-depth cooperation is now being acknowledged and rewarded by Europe. By constantly reconnecting the many diverse forces in our city, the solutions of tomorrow first take shape here. Our mission is to lead the way towards a sustainable and prosperous future with and for everyone,” added Ridouani.
Leuven 2030, one of the many city’s innovation-centric initiatives, involves partnerships with over 600 entities and enterprises pertaining to the government, educational institutions, private enterprises and citizens working together to implement a climate transition strategy. The initiative also comprises of a roadmap on carbon neutrality.