Leuven, Belgium, has been named the 2020 European Capital of Innovation for its use of innovation to improve residents’ lives.
The €1 million cash prize, which every year recognises cities’ innovative solutions to social challenges that engage and empower its citizens, was awarded to Leuven in a ceremony with EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel during the EU Research and Innovation Days in Brussels, Belgium, on 24 September.
Speaking remotely at the digital awards ceremony, Mohamed Ridouani, the mayor of Leuven said he was pleased to receive the prize and that he sees the city as a model that shows 'the way forward for Europe.'
‘We try to have just communities. We try to have a just transition (towards climate neutrality),' he said.
A panel of independent experts named five runners-up: Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Espoo, Finland; Helsingborg, Sweden; València, Spain; and Vienna, Austria. Each of these cities received a cash prize of €100,000.
Winner: Leuven, Belgium
The city of Leuven in Belgium boasts one of the top-ranked universities in the world. A well-known research and technology hub, the city connects residents, city officials, researchers and entrepreneurs to innovate and put into practice solutions to today’s challenges. These challenges include shifting to a circular economy, climate change and ensuring a high standard of education and health. Following the coronavirus crisis, Leuven aims to be equitable, sustainable, and co-owned.
Networks such as Leuven 2030 and high-tech health network Leuven MindGate are implementing various projects at the economic, social and environmental levels for the benefit of the residents. For example, in 2019, the Leuven 2030 network developed a roadmap with 13 programs to a climate neutral future.