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155 European Cities Submit New and Creative Ideas to Solve Pressing Urban Challenges through Bloomberg Philanthropies' 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge

-- Selection Process Now Underway to Determine 20 Finalists; €9 Million in Flexible Funds at Stake

-- Participation Rate Exceeds That of Inaugural Competition in the U.S.

NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 155 cities across Europe have submitted ideas in the 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge (bloomberg.org/mayorschallenge), a competition that seeks to inspire European cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life - and that ultimately can spread to other cities. 70% of cities have generated ideas to address major social or economic challenges, including unemployment, energy efficiency, obesity, and aging. The remaining 30% of cities' initiatives focus on improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of government. Modeled on a successful inaugural competition in the United States, 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.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140219/NY67479-INFO )

"The response to the Mayors Challenge across Europe has exceeded even our own high expectations," said Michael R. 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 applying cities come from 28 countries and represent over 71 million Europeans. Cities both large and small are participating in the Mayors Challenge. 49% have between 100,000 and 250,000 residents, 28% have between 250,000 and 500,000 residents, and 23% have more than 500,000 residents. The participation rate exceeded that of the inaugural Mayors Challenge, with 26% of eligible cities submitting applications in Europe versus 24% in the U.S.

Participating cities span the continent, with 35% from Southern Europe, 25% from Western Europe, 19% from Eastern Europe, 15% from the British Isles, and 6% from Northern Europe. 19 European capital cities submitted ideas to the competition - from Stockholm to Athens, Paris, and Warsaw.

The Mayors Challenge invited leaders of eligible European cities with 100,000 residents or more to submit their city's boldest idea. Cities had until 31 January 2014 to submit their ideas. The ideas must address a serious problem, improve customer service for residents, create significant government efficiencies, and/or increase engagement with the public.

Key Statistics on Mayors Challenge Ideas

Idea Type

  • Seven in 10 ideas tackle specific social or economic challenges
  • Three in 10 ideas make city government more innovative or effective

Common Problems Addressed

  • 12% focus on unemployment and workforce development
  • 9% focus on energy efficiency and high energy costs
  • 7% focus on obesity, inactivity, and food poverty
  • 5% focus on lack of support and resources for the aging
  • 5% focus on low levels of social capital


  • 95% rely on cross-agency coordination
  • 75% rely on private sector partnerships
  • 73% rely on academics / scientists
  • 50% rely on non-profit partnerships
  • 43% rely on citizen engagement


  • 63% involve technology
  • 20% involve co-design
  • 16% involve volunteers
  • 15% involve open / big data
  • 14% involve open innovation
  • 12% involve gamification

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

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

A selection committee announced in November will help Bloomberg Philanthropies select the 20 finalists and five eventual prize winners. The committee is comprised of experts in innovation and urban policy, and members come from a range of European countries and backgrounds. Cities will be judged on four criteria: their idea's vision and novelty, potential for impact, potential for replication in other cities, and the quality of the implementation plans.

Selection committee members include:

  • Christian Bason, Director of MindLab (Denmark)
  • Till Behnke, Founder of betterplace.org (Germany)
  • Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Director of LSE Cities (United Kingdom)
  • Bruno Giussani, European Director of TED (Switzerland)
  • Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Advisor to the Secretary-General and Former Head of the Urban Programme at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) (France)
  • Christine Leitner, Senior Policy Advisor at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth (Austria)
  • Maria Manuel Leitao Marques, Full Professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra and Former Secretary of State for Administrative Modernization (Portugal)
  • Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of Nesta (United Kingdom)
  • Bertin Nahum, President and CEO of Medtech SA (France)
  • Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT Senseable City Lab and Founder of Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy)
  • Silvija Seres, Independent Investor and Board Member and Managing Director of TechnoRocks (Norway)
  • Ivan Tosics, Managing Director of Metropolitan Research Institute (Hungary)

To view the full list of participating cities, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org/applyingcities. To share the infographic, use mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org/ideasinfographic.

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit bloomberg.org/mayorschallenge and follow @BloombergCities on Twitter.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies' mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation, which includes the Mayors Challenge, and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg's charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $452 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org.

For more information on Bloomberg Philanthropies, media should contact Meghan Womack, [email protected].

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