iCapital EU Capitals of Innovation - client potential

Last week I had an inspiring conversation with the project officer behind

iCapital - the Commission’s European Capitals of Innovation initiative

After some reflection I think it could be worth exploring as a continuation of our work done around European Capitals of Culture.

In short:

  • It’s a lot less competitive that ECoCs and much less lead time (call opens later in Feb and closes in June, with the Capital selected for the existing year

  • There is alignment with other Edgeryders’ activities; such as the research network’s explorations and those of our network - in particular makerspaces, data-driven / digital democracy and biohacking/citizen science

  • There is EU1million prize money plus EU300K to three runners up, so distributed possibility of at least some ROI

  • Associate countries are also eligible - eg. Tunisia

  • While Paris won last year because of its grassroots partner mix, Talinn and Tel Aviv were runners up so it’s not the big cities that are the shoe-ins

  • The project officer likes me :wink:

Before I go ahead by researching and developing a concept note to pursue potential, I wanted to see what learnings may be relevant from your work with ECoCs @noemi @johncoate @alberto @nadia and anyone else, and if you think this is worth exploring or not.

Any stand out thoughts?

First thing that comes to mind is Open Insulin and the Oakland lab with Anthony, but I haven’t got past that thought at this point. Looks promising…


Bob Palmer would be the one to talk to. He is super experienced in ECOC, and has a looong history at and with the Commission. He is on the platform as Bob, but I can make a more formal intro.

The idea is: can he think of a client city that wants to run?

But also: what is the business model? With ECOCs, the candidate city pays people like Bob to help them mount a bid. So, it takes on the risk. Do you have in mind a risk-sharing model?

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Thanks @alberto. I think an intro to Bob would be great once I’m clearer on the model and concept if I choose to move forward yes.

At this stage I was intending on adapting Edgeryders’ ECoCs approach and collaborate with those here interested. I’ve started scouring the files - if you and/or @noemi have specific documents you think would be relevant - such as the business model you used - please let me know at your ease.

More soon


The ECOC business model is as follows. To mount a bid, cities need to find some money and put together a team. This means they have a budget to spend on consultants. We try to get them to hire us.

This is predicated on long, predictable cycles. Countries that can run for ECOC in any given year are known 6-7 years in advance. Cities decide to mount a bid 2-3 years before they have to turn in the bidbook. In the case of Matera, which is not uncommon, they set up an administrative vehicle just to run the bid, and endowed it with a couple of millions.

I know nothing about EUCI, but it seems it is not like that. Some cities will find it difficult or impossible to do that if the deadline for applying is 8 months away. In that case, we might be forced onto a business model of taking the risk: do the heavy lifting to write an application, hoping we will win. The risk is high, because you can count on tens of cities running, with only one winner and two consolation prizes.



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From what I see it’s more about mounting a partnership than a project, and packaging the city’s inno identity into something coherent.

From the site:
Cities will in particular have to prove how they created the local conditions to innovate,

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