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155 European cities enter challenge to win €5 million

Bloomberg Philanthropies has today announced that 155 cities across Europe have submitted ideas in the 2013-2014 Mayors’ Challenge, a competition that seeks to inspire European cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.

Seventy percent of cities have submitted ideas to address major social or economic challenges, including unemployment, energy efficiency, obesity, and ageing. The remaining 30 percent of cities’ initiatives focus on improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of government. Modelled on a successful inaugural competition in the US, the Mayors’ Challenge will award €5 million for the grand prize winner and €1 million for four additional cities that come up with the most creative and transferable ideas.

“The response to the Mayors’ Challenge across Europe has exceeded even our own high expectations,” said Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and 108th Mayor of New York City. “These dynamic city leaders are working to find new ways to tackle some of our most pressing and common urban challenges–from youth unemployment to obesity to civic participation. The selection committee will have a very difficult time narrowing this strong set of proposals down to 20 finalists.”

The 155 applicant cities come from 28 countries and represent over 71 million Europeans. EUROCITIES is a partner for this year’s challenge and 75 of the competing cities are EUROCITIES members. Nineteen European capital cities submitted ideas to the competition–from Stockholm to Athens, Paris, and Warsaw.

Michael Bloomberg

“Cities are tapping technology, citizens, partnerships, and social and open innovation to tackle tough challenges,” said James Anderson, who leads government innovation programmess at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “The ideas put forward are both creative and pragmatic, and we look forward to selecting the top 20.”

For the Mayors’ Challenge, leaders of eligible European cities with 100,000 residents or more were invited to submit their city’s boldest idea. The ideas must address a serious problem, improve customer service for residents, create significant government efficiencies, and/or increase engagement with the public.

On 29 and 30 April 2014, 20 teams from each finalist city will attend a Bloomberg Ideas Camp in Brussels, a two-day gathering where top policy, programme, and innovation experts will help cities strengthen and stretch their ideas to ensure the greatest impact. Coming out of camp, finalists will receive individualised coaching to prepare their ideas for final submission. Finalists will submit revised applications by mid-summer, and the five winners will be announced next autumn.