The Finnish city accepted the award as recognition of its success in providing an attractive innovation and operating environment for forward-looking companies and educational and research partners. Its efforts on social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability aim to discover solutions to urban sustainability challenges, such as inclusion, employment, climate change and economic recovery, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“Espoo is committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals by 2025, five years before the deadline,” highlighted Mayor Jukka Mäkelä.
“This is a good agenda for innovation work with companies and educational and research partners. It supports Espoo’s economic competitiveness and sustainability.”
The 270 000-resident city also called attention to its deep-rooted tradition of pursuing innovation through a network consisting of the likes of Fortum, Neste, Nokia, Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
For the innovations to be impactful, it is crucial that also local residents contribute to the process, stressed Mäkelä.
“We provide services that support the wellbeing and daily lives of our residents. If we want our services to be resident-oriented, residents need to be involved in our development work. We are successful in everything that people get involved in,” he declared.
Espoo will use the 100 000-euro prize primarily to support the innovation activities of children and young people.
Belgium’s Leuven was named this year’s capital of innovation in Europe. Cluj-Napoca (RO), Helsingborg (SE), Valencia (ES) and Vienna (AT) were the four other finalists in the competition, which annually casts the spotlight on cities that come up innovative solutions to social challenges that engage and empower their residents.