Long considered Europe’s bicycle capital and one of the continent’s most livable cities, Amsterdam has just been named the European Capital of Innovation, or iCapital 2016. The award is given in recognition of the city’s holistic vision of innovation as related to four areas of urban life: governance, economics, social inclusion, and quality of life. Amsterdam was selected among eight finalists, and was awarded a €950,000 cash prize that will go towards scaling up and expanding its innovation efforts.
The city’s video presentation pitched Amsterdam’s innovative combination of individuality and community-building in its branding campaign iamsterdam, its integration of IoT, its excellence in social innovation and its attractiveness for entrepreneurs as reasons for why it should be named Europe’s iCapital. The presentation demonstrated how the city as “open platform” allows city-makers to co-create the city, allowing city leaders to facilitate change rather than direct it.
Other finalists included Berlin, Eindhoven, Glasgow, Milano, Oxford, Paris, Torino, and Vienna. Turin and Paris were awarded second and third place, winning €100,000 and €50,000, respectively.
The European Capital of Innovation Award began in 2014, when Barcelona in Spain was named iCapital of Europe for its introduction of new technologies to bring the city closer to its citizens. The award is organized by the Innovation Union, one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Innovation Union aims to make Europe a world-class science performer, remove obstacles to innovation, and revolutionize the way public and private sectors work together.
The news comes as Amsterdam announces the launch of its FabCity. The FabCity, a campus for urban innovators that invites more than 400 students, professionals, researchers, artists, and institutions to collaborate, will be set up on Amsterdam’s Java Island between 11 April and 26 June. The FabCity is conceived as a green, self-sustaining city that holds some 50 pavilions, installations and prototypes covering topics like energy, transportation, water, and local food supplies, among others.
The FabCity is organized as part of the city’s “Europe by People” program, the cultural program for the Netherland’s presidency of the European Union. The Dutch capital, which will host the European Union between January and June 2016, has seen an influx of over 20,000 politicians and civil workers from around Europe. The Europe by People program examines contemporary social issues through culture and design. In addition to the FabCity, the program includes an interactive wall that will be available online and offline as well as an “On Stage” program, which includes performances, exhibitions and projects that will be shown on stages across the city.