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Leuven (Flanders) is the ‘European Capital of Innovation’

The fact that R&D and innovation flourish in Flanders is for a large part thanks to the thriving and close-knit collaborations between the region’s private, public and academic sectors. But the mindsets of Flanders’ cities are also an important contributing factor. In this respect, the city of Leuven has been named ‘European Capital of Innovation’ or ‘iCapital’ by the European Commission.

Tough competition

Every year, the European Commission awards the iCapital title to the city that makes the best use of innovation to improve its citizens’ quality of life. In an exciting final round, Leuven won from cities such as Milan, Valencia, Vienna and Helsingborg. Ghent, another of Flanders’ main cities, was also in the running for the title. But in the end, Leuven claimed victory.

Citizen involvement

Just as in 2018, the city of Leuven put itself forward as a candidate together with the Leuven 2030 initiative and Leuven MindGate. Back then, the city finished in the top 3, while the Greek capital Athens received the iCapital title. “That was already a great recognition for our city, but this year’s victory is the crowning glory of our work,” says Mohamed Ridouani, mayor of Leuven. “To compete for the iCapital title, one of the main criteria is citizen involvement, and that’s a major part of Leuven’s DNA. The inhabitants of Leuven are very engaged. Every day we work with a lot of people to make Leuven the most sustainable, social and prosperous city in Europe.”

Powerful ecosystem

Leuven’s innovative mindset also contributed to the victory. “Leuven leads the way with its innovative and ambitious approach to societal challenges,” Ridouani comments. “We are proud of our unique way of working together, for which we have received European recognition in the past and which continues to inspire us.”

“This title acknowledges the innovative power of the city’s ecosystem,” adds Johan Merlevede, director of Leuven MindGate. “Leuven’s innovations make people’s lives better: just think of all of the inventions that helped make life more bearable during the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown. It’s clear: Leuven is where strong and creative minds come together, and together we achieve the best results.”

More info

Leuven MindGate
Reported by
VRT News website
25 September 2020

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