This week, Barcelona was named the European Capital of Innovation. The European Commission awarded the first-ever iCapital Award to Barcelona, Spain, “for introducing the use of new technologies to bring the city closer to citizens.” Barcelona was announced as the winner at the closing ceremony of the Innovation Convention 2014 in Brussels. We beat out Grenoble, France and Groningen, Netherlands in a close competition that was chosen by a panel of independent experts.
The €500,000 iCapital prize will be used to expand and scale our city’s efforts in innovation. 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. Outstanding initiatives at the local level will contribute to keep turning the EU into an Innovation Union.”
In September 2011, Barcelona’s city council launched the ‘Barcelona as a People City’ initiative, introducing new technologies to foster economic growth and increase the welfare of our citizens. The plans include 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); and social innovation. The project also promoted alliances between research centers, universities and private and public partners, in addition to providing better ‘smart services’ in a flexible and agile way through ICT.
Innovation is central to economic growth and business competitiveness, and lies at the center of the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy. Two thirds of the EU population now lives in urban areas, therefore, these cities have a key role to play in making Europe more innovative better places to live.
With the European Capital of Innovation Award, the Commission is recognizing the cities, which are taking major steps to promote innovation and improving the quality of life for their citizens. Congratulations Barcelona!