Leuven will receive one million euros under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme. The five runner-up cities – Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Espoo (Finland), Helsingborg (Sweden), Valencia (Spain) and Vienna (Austria) – will receive 100,000 each.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said that "Leuven is a mission-driven city that excels in innovative governance models. It offers its people an opportunity to get involved in critical decision-making processes. But it’s an honour to recognise the initiatives of all six winners. Their vibrant innovation ecosystems are an inspiration to all European cities."
Leuven Mayor Mohamed Ridouani (Flemish socialist) was proud with the prize and soon posted a message on Twitter. "I am honoured and thankful for this award, which is a symbol of hope for a better common future, especially in these challenging times. Innovation for the better and for all is Leuven’s motto. Collaboration and empathetic leadership, translated systematically into an engaging governance model, is our way of getting it done."
Leuven is the sixth city to win the European Capital of Innovation award, and the third non-capital city after Barcelona and Nantes, a European statement said. "The city aims to become one of Europe’s Labs of the Future through a mission-oriented model that facilitates collaborative innovation. Different groups of stakeholders come together, with the common purpose of innovating around complex challenges from climate change and the shift to a circular economy to ensuring high-quality education and care. Leuven is not only providing increased opportunities for innovating to its citizens, but also actively involving them in testing their ideas in the city."