Amsterdam: European Capital of Innovation

Amsterdam: European Capital of Innovation

Amsterdam has been crowned European Capital of Innovation in the annual iCapital competition, organized by the European Commission. A panel of independent experts judged the nine finalist cities based on four key areas of urban living impacted by innovation: governance, economics, social inclusion, and quality of life. Facing tough competition, Amsterdam came out on top and was praised for its healthy start-up climate and sharing economy resulting from a bottom-up approach based on smart growth, startups, liveability and digital social innovation.


To help scale up the city’s comprehensive "innovation ecosystem", Amsterdam will receive €950 000 in first prize funding. Second and third prizes of €100 000 and €50 000 were awarded to Turin and Paris. With a number of citywide innovation projects and a Smart City initiative, this award comes as a significant milestone in Amsterdam’s ongoing mission to reinvent public services.


Each of the nine finalist cities created a short film highlighting their unique innovation efforts. Watching each video, it is clear that a wave of innovation is gathering momentum across Europe. Watch each video below and discover how each city qualified as a finalist.


Embracing a bottom-up approach based on smart growth, startups, livability and digital social innovation.


Open innovation models supporting social innovation start-ups and creating new market opportunities for urban innovations.


Strategy based on open innovation, connectivity and ingenuity aiming at becoming a world hub for start-up.


Performing as an urban living lab where innovative Information and Communication Technology solutions can be tested.


Combining digital technology with creativity in its world-leading urban smart lighting strategy.


Replicable innovation model based on partnerships across industry, science and communities.


Enhancing social inclusion and alternative models in the delivery of public services to create more opportunities for employment.


Vision to openly share the wealth of knowledge within its world-class innovation ecosystem.


Innovation and ICT strategies based on a citizen-centred approach and long-term developments in economy, education, research and technology.

Carlos Moedas
Carlos Moedas
European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation
""Amsterdam fully deserves to be our European Capital of Innovation for its holistic vision of innovation in and for the city. But the competition was very tough and the outstanding achievements of the all nine shortlisted cities are an inspiration to others. They are shining examples of how cities can put innovation to work to improve the way people live and businesses work.""
Markku Markkula
Markku Markkula
President of the European Committee of the Regions
"This Award is all about speeding up change: we must encourage cities and regions to tackle burning societal challenges by jumping on the innovation train and spreading bottom-up experiences. I am proud to see that 12 European Committee of the Regions' members represent these nine finalists. We need pioneering cities and regions like the winner, Amsterdam, to lead the way."

As the birthplace of THNK, our roots are deep in Amsterdam. The city’s slogan “I amsterdam” stems from ‘I’ as the individual, ‘Amsterdam’ as the collective. In a similar vein, we removed the “I” from think to remind us all to innovate without ego and as a collective. THNK was founded as a joint initiative by business and creative sectors, and in cooperation with the Dutch Prime Minister and the Dutch Innovation Platform. Recognizing our home as the European Capital of Innovation is an honor and and inspiration to continue breaking new ground.

The THNK Creative Leadership Program provides the opportunity to share Amsterdam’s innovative DNA with groups of inspiring individuals from across corporate, private, public, and social sectors and from all over the world. Together, each class works together to create innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing and inspiring challenges using THNK tools and methodology.


Image Credits: iCapital

With limited spaces on our program, discover how you can build your own innovation skills in Amsterdam. To join the upcoming THNK Creative Leadership Programvisit the program page to find out if you qualify or contact us at