Dublin shares European capital of innovation runner-up prize 2021

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Dublin has been selected as joint runner-up at this year’s European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) Awards which were held in Brussels yesterday evening (24 November).

The city will receive €100,000 in prize money, together with its co-runners-up, Malaga. The winners were announced on the eve of the first day of the European Innovation Council (EIC) summit 2021.

Now in its seventh year, the iCapital awards celebrate Europe’s most innovative cities. Dublin was one of four finalists in its category, which also included winners Dortmund, Malaga and Vilnius in third place.

Introducing Dublin to the audience at the EIC summit, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, name-checked CoderDojo, Dogpatch Labs, Smart D8 and tech for good education initiative The Academy of the Near Future.

She said the “rapid increase of Dublin’s innovation network” was “exceptional” thanks to collaboration between academic networks, businesses, NGOs and citizens.

Representing Dublin, deputy lord mayor and Dublin City councillor Joe Costello agreed that the Irish capital’s place in the final was “a story of collaboration.”

After the ceremony, Costello told Silicon Republic that coming joint second was “certainly an achievement” considering this was the first year the city entered. He paid tribute to the “Trojan work” his colleagues and the team on Dublin City Council put into building Dublin’s case.

Their work involved bringing together Dublin’s research centres, universities, citizens and state bodies. Costello, who is also a Labour Councillor for Dublin City, said he and his colleagues had a dual role to ensure the city provides services as well as “having a vision and a future to improve the city.”

When asked to address the ongoing controversy surrounding the Dublin housing market, particularly for students and people on lower incomes, Costello said he was positive about the future. “I’ve been about 30 years in politics now, and we’ve always complained. We’ve always [been] giving out.”

“I wouldn’t be in politics if I wasn’t positive,” he added. “I also believe a lot of bad things have been done and a lot of damage has been done. There’s no doubt about that. But I believe very strongly that we should be positive and that we can only look forward to improving the city and making it a better place to live in.”

Costello stressed the need for all bodies “to continue to work in a collaborative fashion” to achieve that goal.

Finnish city Vantaa scooped the winning award for rising innovative city. This year’s event was the first to feature an additional category aimed at rising innovator cities with smaller populations.

Vantaa will receive €500,000 in prize money, while Dortmund will get €1m. Last year’s iCapital winner was Leuven.

The EIC 2021 summit is to conclude today (25 November) when the winners of the EU Prize for Women Innovators will be announced. Seven of the 13 women entrepreneurs are Irish.

Anita Finnegan’s Nova Leah, Ciara Clancy’s Beats Medical, Lisa O’ Donoghue’s Votechnik, Patricia Scanlon’s SoapBox Labs and Suzanne Moloney’s HidraMed are all competing for the top prizes of €100,000 each. There will be three winners.

There are also two Irish women in contention for the EU Rising Innovator award, which is due to be announced tomorrow afternoon after the Women Innovators award. They are sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane of Izzy Wheels, a business that designs and sells wheel covers for wheelchairs. The Keanes appeared at Inspirefest in 2017.

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