Dortmund is the European Capital of Innovation 2021 with Vantaa recognised Rising Innovator

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Wednesday, November 24 2021.

At the European Innovation Council Summit taking place today and tomorrow in Brussels, the Commission announced the winners of the seventh edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards (‘iCapital'). The city of Dortmund in Germany is the European Capital of Innovation 2021 and the city of Vantaa in Finland is the European Rising Innovative City.

Following an intense evaluation process, two high-level juries of independent experts selected the winners and runners-up in the two prize categories. The second place in the European Capital of Innovation category is endowed to Dublin in Ireland and to Malaga in Spain. Vilnius in Lithuania is awarded the third place. Cascais in Portugal and Trondheim in Norway are granted the second and third places in the European Rising Innovative City category.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “I am impressed by the outstanding work of all iCapital finalist cities. I am honoured to highlight these cities that are the real test beds for innovation. They co-create bottom-up initiatives to achieve more sustainable urban development.”

These awards recognise the cities' long-term efforts to create an environment that enables and embraces innovation. The cities have developed and deployed innovative concepts, putting in place the processes, tools and governance models to achieve excellent results. They could serve as strong examples for cities in Europe and beyond that have been suffering from the pandemic and will need to embark on transformation.

In addition to the prestigious recognition, the European Capital of Innovation category winner will receive a cash prize of €1 million, while the two runners-up are rewarded with €100,000 each (Dublin and Malaga will share the prize). The winner of the European Rising Innovative City category will be awarded €500,000 with the two runners-up receiving €50,000 each.


Supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) under Horizon Europe, the seventh edition of the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital) closed on Thursday 15 July. The call received 39 applications from across the European Union and Horizon Europe Associated Countries.

Every year, the European Union recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems by awarding the iCapital Prize. The latter identifies urban ecosystems that connect citizens with the public sector, academia, and businesses, to successfully translate results into improved wellbeing of the society, while at the same time boosting game-changing innovation.

The prize first took place in 2014. Past winners include Barcelona (2014), Amsterdam (2016), Paris (2017), Athens (2018), Nantes (2019) and Leuven (2020).

In addition to the main category, the European Capital of Innovation in which cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants are competing, a new category featured this year: The European Rising Innovative City that targeted towns and cities with a population of more than 50,000 and up to 249,999 inhabitants.

iCapital is one of the four EIC Prizes granted under Horizon Europe, the EU's research and innovation framework programme. The prize is managed by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, and the winners are chosen following an assessment performed by two high-level independent expert juries.

For More Information

EIC Impact report and key achievements

The European Capital of Innovation Awards

EU Mission: Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities