Du 13/11/2019 au 31/12/2019

The winners of the 2019 award for the European Capital of Innovation were announced at the European Research and Innovation Days at the end of September in Brussels with the city of Nantes in north-west France taking the top prize.

The title - and with it €1 million in prize money - was awarded to Nantes in recognition of its outstanding ability to harness innovation to improve the lives of its citizens and its open and collaborative governance model. The other five runner-up cities – Antwerp (Belgium), Bristol (UK), Espoo (Finland), Glasgow (UK) and Rotterdam (Netherlands) – received €100 000 each to promote and scale up their innovation practice.

Nantes is the fifth city to win the award, and the second non-capital city after Barcelona. It has developed a vision and a practice of open governance featuring a constant dialogue with citizens, associations and experts. It also has a thriving digital and start-up community, which helps develop and implement public policies.

Nantes' flagship policies and projects include:

  • 'Great Debates' with the citizens to discuss topics such as energy transition: the initiative involved over 55 000 participants and resulted in a 2018 roadmap with 33 ambitious commitments, monitored by a commission of independent citizens and stakeholders.
  • 15 places to be reinvented' (and hundreds of similar citizens initiatives): a competitive selection of ideas submitted by citizens that resulted, for instance, in turning an unused chapel into a mushroom urban farm, in creating a zero-waste awareness hub in a former school art gallery as well as a solidarity canteen in a former restaurant where people voluntarily prepare meals for those in need.
  • 'Nantes City Lab' helps innovators test new solutions in real life by providing physical and digital infrastructure, such as a 3D printed social house constructed within 3 days or an autonomous shuttle powered exclusively by a solar road.
  • 'Creative factory', a support system for creative and cultural industries, and the ‘Eco-innovation factory', a programme that selects projects such as collecting biowaste from restaurants and offices with bicycle trailers for local composting.
  • The ‘Nantes French Tech Capital' programme that fosters startups, scaleups, talent attraction and breakthrough technologies, and enables the coordination and promotion of the regional innovation ecosystem.
  • 'Ecossolies', a network that gathers private and public members that develop initiatives in the field of the social and solidarity economy, and promote them by awarding the best social innovation solutions such as Hacoopa project for the housing of seniors or 'Bout à Bout' association to reduce the impact of used glass bottles.