The city of Athens has been awarded the EU’s prestigious European Capital of Innovation 2018 title, with a prize of €1 million, as announced at a special event held in Lisbon in the presence of the Greek capital’s Mayor Yorgos Kaminis.

The prize money will be used to promote innovation activity in Athens and foster collaboration with other cities. The runner up cities – Aarhus (Denmark), Hamburg (Germany), Leuven (Belgium), Toulouse (France), and Umeå (Sweden) – each received €100,000. 26 cities in 16 Member States applied to be considered for the European Capital of Innovation award which is funded by the EU research and innovation program Horizon 2020.

“Athens stands out as an example that a city facing many challenges can achieve great things. Through innovation, Athens has found new purpose to turn around the economic and social crisis. It is proof that it’s not the difficulties but how you raise yourself above them that matters,” declared Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation at the award ceremony.

The City of Athens has placed a lot of importance on innovation and how it can help the local community bring about change and open up to the world. Such innovations include:

  • POLIS2– a project which provides small grants to residents, small businesses and creative communities to revitalise abandoned buildings;
  • Curing the Limbo – an initiative connecting refugees and migrants with local residents to help them learn the language and integrate into the city;
  • The Digital Council – a city-sponsored scheme to promote digital solutions, both by boosting digital skills training and developing sustainable, tech-enabled smart city initiatives; and
  • The renovation of the 90-year-old Kypseli Public Market, creating a “social entrepreneurship” market space to host exhibitions, workshops and other creative projects.

“We have shown that things can be done differently through partnerships, with the participation of civil society and with a plan for the city,” stressed Yorgos Kaminis in his exclusive statement at the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

“This prize belongs to everyone, especially to those citizens of Athens who worked with the municipality to overcome the crisis and since the prize is given to the capital, it belongs to all of Greece”, added the mayor of Athens.