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The European Capital of Innovation Award (iCapital) - H2020-European-i-Capital-Prize-2018
Deadline: 21 Jun 2018   CALL EXPIRED

EU logo mono European Capital of Innovation

 Social Innovation
 Urban Management
 Smart Cities
 Urban Development
 Innovation & Research
 Urban transport
 Digital Society


1.1. Objectives pursued

With their capacity to connect people, places, public and private actors, urban areas can substantially enhance innovation in Europe and improve the quality of citizens' lives. New approaches to undertake and deploy innovative practices are gaining support, making the shift from traditional top-down schemes to more open and bottom-up practices. Cities increasingly act as platforms for experimentation, engaging citizens at all levels of governance and stages of innovation, from problem definition, to solution testing and application.

The European Union recognises yearly cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems by awarding the European Capital of Innovation prize. The prize identifies urban ecosystems that connect citizens, the public sector, academia, and business, and successfully translate their results into improved wellbeing of their citizens. The award is part of the European Union's efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of urban innovation 'with' and 'for' the citizens, supporting cities in addressing relevant societal challenges, and strengthening their urban resilience.

1.2. Expected results

The Capital of Innovation prize aims at championing inspiring cases of citizen-led and municipality- enabled innovation flourishing in cities. The Award is a prestigious recognition for city administrators who are courageous enough to open up their governance practices to experimentation. In addition to the monetary reward, the prize brings high visibility in the form of renewed public interest and increased media coverage.

The award will raise the profile of city teams that have developed and implemented innovative policies; enhanced citizens' role in finding local solutions and participating in the decision-making process; facilitated the city attractiveness towards investors, industry, top class talents and entrepreneurial individuals; helped the city to open up connections with others and cooperate with them, thus inspiring and helping identify best practices to be replicated across Europe.

The Award will recognise:

  •  1 European Capital of Innovation 2018
    The Winner will be named the European Capital of Innovation 2018 and will receive a cash prize of one million EUR. The prize amount is dedicated to promote the Winning city's innovative practices, raise its international profile, and enhance its capacity as a widely recognised role model city for urban innovation.

  •   5 Runner-Up cities
    Top five cities with the most disruptive innovation practices that lead to outstanding impact will be awarded a monetary prize of 100 000 EUR. The cash prize will reward Runners-Up' innovative solutions and will allow further scale-up of its initiatives.

  •   12 Finalist cities
    Twelve finalist cities will be given the opportunity to showcase their experimentation and gain inspiration from experiences of other cities –for example, to learn about new approaches through the exchange of good practices, initiatives, ideas, and innovations. All Finalist cities will be included in the iCapital Alumni network.



First prize of EUR 1 000 000
5 Runner-Up prizes of EUR 100 000



Opening of the submissions
22 February 2018

Closing date for submissions
21 June 2018

Hearings of the finalists
September 2018 (indicative)

Presentations of finalist cities
October 2018 (indicative)

Award Ceremony
November 2017 (indicative)

Applications must be submitted by the participant via the Participant Portal Submission Service. Applications must be readable, accessible and printable. Incomplete applications may be considered

inadmissible if essential elements are missing (see General Annex B to the Main Work Programme). The page-limit for you prize application (Part B) is 30 pages.
Sample application forms will be available on the Participant Portal Reference documents page.



4.1 Eligibility criteria

Applicant cities in the European Capital of Innovation Award 2018 shall comply with the following eligibility criteria in order to be considered eligible:

1. Cities must be located in one of the EU Member or in a country associated to Horizon 2020.
2. Cities must have a population above 100,000 inhabitants. In countries where there are no such cities, the biggest city is eligible.1

3. Winners of former European Capital of Innovation contests are not eligible. This does not apply to Runner-Up and Finalist cities.

Since the Award refers to a given year (2018), the actions proposed by each candidate city must relate to completed or on-going initiatives started after 1st January 2017.

Each application must contain a specific commitment to apply signed by the city Mayor (or the equivalent highest political representative), as specified in the application form. Therefore, while an application can include different initiatives from the same city (e.g. projects run by different city departments) only one application per city (or metropolitan area) can be accepted.

Please note however that special rules may apply for entities from certain countries (see General Annex C to the Main Work Programme).

Please also be aware that participants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.


4.2 Exclusion criteria

Participants will be excluded if they:


are subject to an administrative sanction (i.e. exclusion)2 are in one of the following situations3:

  •   bankrupt, being wound up, having their affairs administered by the courts, entered into an arrangement with creditors, suspended business activities or subject to any other similar proceedings or procedures under national law (including persons with unlimited liability for the participant's debts)

  •   declared in breach of social security or tax obligations by a final judgment or decision (including persons with unlimited liability for the participant's debts)

  •   found guilty of grave professional misconduct4 by a final judgment or decision (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)

  •   convicted of fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation, money laundering, terrorism-related crimes (including terrorism financing), child labour or human trafficking (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)

  •   shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations under a procurement contract, grant agreement or grant decision financed by the EU or Euratom budget (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)

  •   found guilty of irregularities within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Regulation No 2988/95 (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control) have misrepresented information required for participating in the contest or fail to submit such information were involved in the preparation of the prize documents and this entails a distortion of competition.



European Capital of innovation 2018 - Rules of Contest

The Award looks at how applicant cities aim at:

  •   Turning into a test-bed for innovative solutions to local societal challenges;

  •   Including such solutions into their daily policies;

  •   Allowing citizens to contribute to and use such solutions.

    Cities will have to clearly highlight the achieved and expected social and economic impact of their initiatives and provide relevant supporting elements.

The prize will be awarded to the entry that best addresses the following cumulative criteria:

  1. Experimenting – innovative concepts, processes, tools, and governance models proving the city's commitment to act as a test-bed for innovative practices, and ensuring mainstreaming of these practices into the urban development process;

  2. Engaging – increasing opportunities for a broader range of citizens and ensuring uptake of their ideas;

  3. Expanding – outlining the city's potential to attract new talent, resources, funding, investments, and to become a role model for other cities;

  4. Empowering – concrete and measurable impact directly connected to the implementation of innovative practices.



The mandatory supporting documents are set out in the application form.

Participants may be asked at a later stage for further documents (for legal entity validation, bank account validation, ethics review, declaration of honour on exclusion grounds, etc.).



If there are more than 80 applications, there will be a pre-selection phase to select the best 80 applications to pass to jury review. Otherwise, all applications will pass directly to jury review.

The pre-selection panel and jury usually have a different composition, but jury members may participate in the pre-selection panel.

The jury evaluation is planned to take place between June and September 2018.

The pre-selection panel/jury will evaluate each application against the 4 award criteria and score them as follows (half marks are possible; decimals are not):


Threshold 3
Maximum points 5

Threshold 3
Maximum points 5

Threshold 3
Maximum points 5

Threshold 3
Maximum points 5


Threshold 12
Maximum points  20


For applications with the same score, the pre-selection panel/jury will determine a priority order according to the following approach: The score for the criterion No 1 will be given a weight of 2 and the score for criterion No 2 will be given a weight of 1.5.

The 12 best ranked applicants will be invited as Finalists for hearings in Brussels. If two or more applications tie, the prize(s) will be equally divided and awarded.

On the basis of the evaluation by the jury, the Commission will decide on the award of the prizes. All participants will be informed towards the end of 2018 on the outcome of their application.



8.1 Payment arrangements

The prize money to the Winning city (EUR 1 000 000) and Runner-Up cities (EUR 100 000) will be paid in one instalment after the award ceremony by bank transfer, provided all the requested documents have been submitted.

8.2 Publicity — Promoting the prize — Visibility of EU funding

8.2.1 Publicity by the winners

Both finalists and winners must promote the prize and its results, by providing targeted information to multiple audiences (including the media and the public) in a strategic and effective manner.

Unless the Commission requests or agrees otherwise or unless it is impossible, any communication activity related to the action (including in electronic form, via social media, etc.) must:

  1. (a)  display the EU emblem and

  2. (b)  include the following text:

“This city was finalist/Runner-Up/Winner of the European Capital of Innovation Award 2018 from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme”.

When displayed together with another logo, the EU emblem must have appropriate prominence.

For the purposes of their obligations, the finalists/Winner may use the EU emblem without first obtaining approval from the Commission.

This does not, however, give it the right to exclusive use.

Moreover, they may not appropriate the EU emblem or any similar trademark or logo, either by registration or by any other means.

8.2.2 Publicity by the Commission

For promotional purposes, all Finalist cities will be required to provide Commission a short video displaying city innovative practices in an attractive way. European Commission will use those videos for the promotion of the prize.

The Commission may use, for its communication and publicising activities, information relating to the action, documents notably summaries for publication as well as any other material, such as pictures or audio-visual material that it receives from the participants (including in electronic form).

The Commission will publish the name of both the finalists and the winner, their origin, the amount of the prize and its nature and purpose — unless they have requested to waive this publication (because disclosure risks threatening its security and safety or harm its commercial interest).

Photos and videos taken by the Commission either in preparation of the award ceremony or during the award ceremony are the sole property of the Commission.


8.3 Dissemination and exploitation of results

The winners must comply with the obligations set out in Title III of the Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation Regulation No 1290/20135.

8.4 Processing of personal data

8.4.1 Processing of personal data by the Commission
Any personal data will be processed by the Commission under Regulation No 45/20016 and in accordance with the Participant Portal privacy notice(s).
All finalists and Winners consent that the Commission publishes the following information:

  •   name

  •   Member State of origin (address or NUTS 2 region)

  •   their activities in relation to the award of the prize (via the summary for publication they provided)

  •   prize amount in whatever form and medium.

8.4.2. Processing of personal data by the participants

The participants must process personal data in compliance with applicable EU and national law on data protection (including authorisations or notification requirements, if any).

8.5 Ethics

The activities must be carried out in compliance with:

  1. (a)  ethical principles (including the highest standards of research integrity) and

  2. (b)  applicable international, EU and national law.

No prize will be awarded for activities carried out outside the EU, if they are prohibited in all Member States.

The participants must ensure that the activities have an exclusive focus on civil applications. The participants must ensure that the activities do not:

(a) aim at human cloning for reproductive purposes

(b) intend to modify the genetic heritage of human beings which could make such changes heritable (with the exception of research relating to cancer treatment of the gonads) or

(c) intend to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research or for the purpose of stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer.


Research activities involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are moreover subject to the conditions set out in the Statement of the Commission related to research activities involving human embryonic stem cells.

The participants must respect the highest standards of research integrity — as set out, for instance, in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity7.

For more information and best practice, see the Participant Portal Online Manual, the Guidance — How to complete your ethics self assessment and the Guidance note — Research focusing exclusively on civil applications.

8.6 Security

The activities must be carried out in compliance with Commission Decision 2015/444, i.e. security- sensitive information must be EU-classified, if its unauthorised disclosure could adversely impact the interests of the EU or of one (or more) of its Member States. Applications that are too security-sensitive cannot be awarded a prize.

For more information and best practice, see the Guidance — Guidelines for the classification of information in research projects, the Guidance — Guidelines for the handling of classified information in EU research projects, the Guidance note — Potential misuse of research results and the Guidance note — Research involving dual use items.

8.7 Conflict of interests

The participants must take all measures to prevent any situation where the impartial and objective award of the prize is compromised for reasons involving economic interest, political or national affinity, family or emotional ties or any other shared interest (‘conflict of interests’).

They must inform the Commission without delay of any situation constituting or likely to lead to a conflict of interests and immediately take all the necessary steps to rectify this situation.

The Commission may verify that the measures taken are appropriate and may require additional measures to be taken by a specified deadline.

8.8 Liability for damages

The Commission cannot be held liable for any damage caused to the participants or to third parties as a consequence of the prize, including for gross negligence.

The Commission cannot be held liable for any damage caused by any of the participants in the context of the prize.

8.9 Checks, audits and investigations

The Commission, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Court of Auditors may carry out checks, audits and investigations in relation to the prize.


8.10 Withdrawal of the prize — Recovery of undue amounts

The Commission may withdraw the prize after its award and recover all payments made, if it finds out that:

  1. (a)  false information, fraud or corruption was used to obtain it

  2. (b)  a winner was not eligible or should have been excluded

  3. (c)  a winner is in serious breach of its obligations under these Rules of Contest.

8.11 Administrative sanctions

If a participant has committed irregularities or fraud or has made false declarations, the Commission may also:

  1. (a)  exclude the participant from all future contracts, grants and contests financed from the EU or Euratom budget for a maximum of five years (or 10 years in case of repetition) and/or

  2. (b)  impose a financial penalty between 2% and 10% of the value of the prize (or between 4% and 20% in case of repetition).


8.12 Cancellation of the contest

The Commission may cancel the contest or decide not to award the prize — without any obligation to compensate participants —, if:

  1. (a)  no applications are received

  2. (b)  the jury does not find a winner

  3. (c)  the winner is not eligible or must be excluded or

  4. (d)  the objective of the contest has already been achieved.]

8.13 Complaints

Complaints against decisions negatively affecting the rights of a participant or winner can be brought before the General Court — or, on appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union — under Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).



For more information, please see the prize website.
In case of questions, please contact

Public link:   Only for registered users

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