Leiden aims to be the Innovation capital of Europe
On 3 December, the municipality of Leiden submitted its candidacy for the title of ‘iCapital’, Innovation Capital of Europe. This title will go to the city with the best innovation climate, bringing together citizens, government organisations, educational institutions and the corporate world.
Leiden sees the combination of knowledge and talent within the city as one of its strongest assets. The city is home to a variety of knowledge and research institutions, including Leiden University and the LUMC. The Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing studies healthy ageing – a theme that is gaining increasing importance in our ageing society. At the Bio Science Park companies and research institutes work together on groundbreaking discoveries. Member of the municipal council Frank de Wit of the Leiden Kennisstad programme (Leiden City of Knowledge): ‘In Leiden, we have researchers developing solar panels and space technology, but also drugs against Alzheimer’s. It is a place where government, companies and knowledge institutions have the opportunity to collaborate on many fronts. Innovation is in our city’s DNA.’
Science and society also meet in LeidenGlobal. This new organisation, lauched in November, combined the strengths of the university with those of a large number of museums and knowledge institutions, such as the National Museum of Ethnology, the National Museum of Antiquities, the African Studies Centre and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. This collaboration covers a broad range of fields, including geography, philosophy, museum studies and linguistics. It is a platform for Leiden to open many perspectives on the world, with themes such as trade networks in Antiquity, new religions or human rights.
Leiden focuses not only on knowledge, but also on culture, and the interaction between the two. A successful example of this is the Night of Art & Knowledge, which was also attended by Leiden University researchers. The historical city centre was transformed into one huge journey of discovery through new knowledge, art and music, which paved the way for revolutionary discoveries.
Leiden submitted its candidacy for the title because it recognises the importance of international knowledge. The city is very invested in international knowledge, and it has incorporated this theme in its vision for the future. It is not for nothing that Leiden and its surroundings form the most knowledge-intensive region of the Netherlands.
In the spring of 2014 we will find out whether Leiden can call itself the Innovation Capital of Europe. The winning city will be awarded the sum of € 500,000 to further increase its efforts in the field of innovation. If Leiden wins, it plans to build further on the Leiden City of Knowledge programme, together with its partners in the city, focusing particularly on innovative care, excellent education and the transition to the job market.
(5 December 2013)