The City of Espoo is the runner-up in the European Commission's European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital). The title of the European Capital of Innovation 2022 was awarded to Aix-Marseille, and Valencia came in third. The results were announced at the European Innovation Council Summit on 7 December 2022.
Espoo's placing this year is the best achievement ever in this competition by a Finnish city. Espoo was also among the finalists in 2019 and 2020, which shows that Espoo’s innovation culture has gained wider interest in the rest of Europe.
Espoo’s strong point is a joint innovation story created together with Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, and businesses. The related unique innovation culture and innovation community are built on closeness, trust, wellbeing, shared goals, and radical cross-disciplinary creativity. A culture of innovation cannot be created by one operator alone; instead, it is shared and implemented together with partners. The city’s task is to facilitate, enable and create the best possible conditions for collaboration.
"Innovations are not made by the city, but by people. I would therefore like to thank and congratulate Espoo’s residents, businesses, and education and development partners – we would not be among the European Capital of Innovation finalists without them," says Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.
Espoo’s success in the iCapital competition shows that the city is an attractive innovation and operating environment for companies developing new solutions as well as for education and research partners.
"Our success in the Capital of Innovation Awards is a good starting point for the promotion of our joint innovation story. It will help us and our strategic partners, Aalto University and VTT, attract knowledge-intensive businesses and experts to Espoo," Mäkelä continues.
"Espoo has a long history of significant and extensive innovation activities that promote the sustainable growth of companies. As innovations and technologies become increasingly important, the plan is to strengthen Otaniemi’s current research environment. One concrete measure is to expand Otaniemi’s microelectronics and quantum technology RDI hub based on open development. The aim is to increase RDI activities in the semiconductor industry in Finland, increase product and service exports, and attract new international talents, businesses and investments," says Antti Vasara, President and CEO of VTT.
"This is a wonderful acknowledgement of the unique and long-term innovation collaboration between Aalto University, the City of Espoo, VTT, and businesses. I believe that awarding the prize to Espoo will further strengthen the appeal of the region among international talents and investors," says Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University.
As one of the three finalists, Espoo will receive a prize of EUR 100,000. Espoo intends to use the prize money to support innovation activities that will benefit the world, for example in the rebuilding of Ukraine.