Oxford bids to become European capital of innovation

Published: Monday, 16th November 2015

Oxford is aiming to be crowned Europe’s Capital of Innovation 2016 and win a prize of €950,000.

This would build on the city’s achievements and create a lasting culture of innovation across many aspects of people’s lives.

The City Council is coordinating a multi-sector team that includes the County Council, the two universities, local businesses and third sector organisations, to bid for the European Commission’s ’iCapital’ award. The competition was originally launched in 2014, with Barcelona as the inaugural winner.

The prize rewards the best performing city in connecting citizens, public organisations, education and business sectors with innovative activity that includes products, tools and concepts of processes that make a place better for people to live. 

Oxford’s offer to Europe is to proactively share its innovation strategy with cities right across the continent while also ensuring more local people can benefit from the opportunities created by innovation. The team behind the bid will demonstrate the city’s ambitious plans to scale up the benefits of innovative activities across all sectors and communities by actively involving residents.

The bid partners recognise the wider benefits the iCapital accolade could bring to Oxford in terms of sharing ideas with Europe, promotion of Oxford’s famous brand, wider funding opportunities for research, business investment and civic pride.

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We have a world class innovation ecosystem and we want to spread this widely across our communities. We will offer a bursary scheme to link young people from Oxford to other European cities to work on innovative ideas and schemes that will improve the quality of life. We want to share Oxford’s energy and skills in a spirit of partnership with cities across Europe. We will share, learn, collaborate, create and re-invest the benefits to improve housing, transport, health services and communications.”

Lynn Shepherd, Executive Chair of Venturefest Oxford, said: “Innovation and entrepreneurship have always been part of Oxford’s rich heritage and Venturefest Oxford is proud of the part it plays in this vibrant ecosystem. I truly believe that Oxford is in a strong position to win this prize and I’m very pleased to be part of the bid team.”

The competition closes on 18 November 2015 and an independent high level jury will select the most “innovative, inspiring, integrated, interactive and impactful” winner in March 2016.