The city of Athens was awarded the prestigious European Capital of Innovation award for 2018, with a prize of 1 million euro being given to Greece's capital for the unique ways it has sought to improve the everyday lives of its residents and to overcome social and economic challenges.
The prize money will be used to further promote innovation activity in Athens and foster collaboration with other cities. The runner-up cities Aarhus in Denmark, Hamburg in Germany, Leuven in Belgium, Toulouse in France, and Umeå in Sweden, who each received 100,000 euros.
A total of 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.
Among the initiatives promoted by City Hall, which secured the award for Athens, are the Polis project, which as helped in revamping abandoned buildings in the heart of the city and the Curing the Limbo scheme, which brings refugees and migrants into contact with other city residents with the aim of teaching them Greek and employment skills. 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.
“Athens stands out as an example that a city facing many challenges can achieve great things. Through innovation, Athens has found a 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,” said Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science, and Innovation at the award ceremony.
“We have shown that things can be done differently through partnerships, with the participation of civil society and with a plan for the city,” Athens Mayor Yorgos Kaminis told 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.
*Image by Nick Bourdo Photography (Copyright)