The Innovation in Politics Awards 2020: Difficult times bring out the best in politics

Vienna, 3 December 2020 – The Innovation in Politics Awards honour Europe’s most creative and courageous political projects in Europe. This year, in the face of the coronavirus crisis, politicians from all over Europe have proved that not even a pandemic can curb their innovative spirit. 389 outstanding projects from a record number of 22 countries were submitted and the jury of 1,058 European citizens selected the 90 finalists and nine winners.

Presented for the fourth time this year, The Innovation in Politics Awards shine a light on the most innovative politicians from all over Europe. In this incredibly challenging year, exchanging best practice across borders and party lines is particularly important. “Since our last Awards finals in December 2019, politics has changed drastically. For months, politicians at all levels of governance and from across the political spectrum have been in survival mode,” says Edward Strasser, Co-Founder and CEO of The Innovation in Politics Institute. “This is why we are all the more impressed by the outstanding achievements of this year’s Awards finalists and winners. Their political work will be of great value to us long after we have overcome the virus.

Crisis opens the door for innovation in politics
Combating the Covid-19 pandemic is a formidable challenge for all politicians. Whether it is a matter of saving lives, protecting jobs and the economy, or keeping the education system running through home schooling: the age of innovative politicians has arrived. A significant rethink is also underway with regard to the continuing challenges related to climate protection and threats to democracy. “Politics is changing like never before. It is vital that we seize this opportunity to make our democracies more resilient, more responsive and more actively engaged with the needs of our citizens. This is where The Innovation in Politics Awards make a significant contribution.” Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, and speaker in the Democracy category.

Nine categories – nine winners
A jury of 1,058 citizens chose the winners of the prestigious trophy from a total of 389 projects. “The meaning of ‘innovation’ in politics cannot be decided by experts, but only by citizens themselves. Cherishing our core European values – human rights, democracy, social balance and prosperity – should not be tied to party tickets. We all live and die by politics. So we commend those who produce results by opening up new paths in politics,” says Patricia Kahane, Co-Founder of The Innovation in Politics Institute. For the first time, the Awards took place digitally. Thousands of viewers from all over Europe followed the presentations of the projects and their initiators in the nine categories on YouTube.

This year’s winners come from Austria, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine, as well as two winners each from Slovakia and the United Kingdom. A new category, Coping with Covid-19, was established in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Reflecting today’s most pressing issues, the jury rated the projects in the Ecology and Coping with Covid-19 categories particularly highly.

Category: Education
France | Municipal Farm for Mouans Sartoux’s School Canteens
Gilles Pérole, Deputy Mayor of Mouans Sartoux

In Mouans Sartoux, sustainable food production and consumption are part of the school curriculum. The local authority owns a farm that supplies the school canteen with organic fruit and vegetables. What’s more, with its designated plot of land, food lab, classroom and educational kitchen, children learn about organic farming, healthy eating and solutions to the climate crisis.

Category: Ecology
Netherlands | Super Circular Estate
Tim Weijers, Alderman and Deputy Mayor of Kerkrade

Kerkrade in the south-east of the Netherlands is facing a rapid decrease in population. High-rise apartments from the 1960s are becoming redundant. The Super Circular Estate project is demolishing these old buildings and using the recovered materials to construct sustainable, modern social housing units. 130 new social houses have been built so far, entirely from recycled materials, pioneering a circular approach in a sector usually associated with high levels of pollution.

Category: Economy
Poland | Covid-19 Support for Gdynia’s Entrepreneurs
Katarzyna Gruszecka-Spychała, Deputy Mayor of Gdynia for Economy

Business owners have been hit hard by restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic. The city administration of Gdynia hired local consulting and law firms to offer professional advice for all entrepreneurs in the city. In a quick and easy process, they received assistance on legal and tax matters, obtaining financial support, and marketing and business strategies. These free consultations have had a direct impact, reducing unemployment and poverty in the city.

Category: Digitalisation
Slovakia | No Data Waste in Košeca
Radomír Brtáň, Mayor of Košeca

Since 2008, the city of Košeca has been trying to encourage its inhabitants to separate their rubbish. In 2019, they succeeded – by introducing a digital tracking system and incentivised fees. The amount of residual waste generated by each household is tracked using QR codes on residual waste bags and chips in bins. And this is where the incentive comes in – the more a household separates, the lower the fees it pays for collection of residual waste. Since waste separation has been rewarded in this way, people have become aware of their contribution to safeguarding the environment and residual waste levels are continuing to fall.

Category: Coping with Covid-19
Slovakia | Home Quarantine Without A Home?
Matúš Vallo, Mayor of Bratislava

How can homeless people self-isolate during a pandemic? The city of Bratislava solved this problem by setting up a fully-furnished quarantine town. Homeless people who test positive for Covid-19 but do not need hospital treatment, or those awaiting test results can stay in one of 50 furnished containers. They also receive free food as well as medical care and mental health support. Since the initiative was launched, 37 more such facilities have opened in other towns and villages all over Slovakia.

Category: Quality of Life
Austria | RemiHub – Inner-City Delivery Hubs
Ulli Sima, Vienna Executive City Councillor for Innovation, Urban Planning and Mobility

Demand for parcel delivery services is increasing rapidly. Since logistics centres are often located outside city limits, delivery vans must cover long distances to reach their destinations. RemiHub takes delivery vans off the roads by using spaces managed by Vienna’s public transport operator as distribution hubs. There, climate-friendly vehicles such as cargo bikes take over and deliver parcels to the recipients. This reduces urban traffic as well as air and noise pollution.

Category: Human Rights
United Kingdom | ProxyAddress
Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing and Residential Development; Chris Hildrey, Architect and Director at Hildrey Studio

An address is not just a place to live, it is also a means of identification. If a person becomes homeless, they are cut off from precisely the services they need to get back on their feet.
ProxyAddress uses data for over 270,000 homes that have been standing empty for long periods to provide stable identity credentials. The system enables people to apply for jobs, open a bank account, register with a doctor and access health care – services that would otherwise be unavailable when they are needed most.

Category: Democracy
Ukraine | Map of Repairs
Yulia Grechka, Head of the Board of CSO Anti-corruption Headquarters

The Map of Repairs is the first and only digital anti-corruption tool in Ukraine. It allows people to monitor the implementation of repair works throughout the country and report any discrepancies or cases of corruption. The map shows all repairs ongoing in public buildings in real time and discloses how much taxpayers’ money is being spent on them. Citizens can compare this information with what is really happening in their neighbourhood. They can leave complaints and report cases of embezzlement using a simple feedback form.

Category: Community
United Kingdom | Oldham Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership
Sean Fielding, Oldham City Councillor

Oldham’s residents have the lowest life expectancy in the UK. So the city council created the Oldham Social Prescribing Innovation Partnership – public health and local community services work together to enable the “prescription” of non-medical services that address their “patients’” social needs: reducing isolation, finding a job or providing help with housing, debt or bereavement. The programme has reduced the number of visits to doctors and emergency medical centres and improved well-being in the community.

About The Innovation in Politics Awards
The Innovation in Politics Awards recognise courageous and creative political projects in Europe. The aim of the competition is to create a growing network of the best minds in politics with a view to sharing knowledge and promoting the exchange of best practice at all political levels and across borders and party lines. Over the past four years, a combined 4,000 European citizens have selected a total of 289 finalists and 33 winning projects from more than 1,500 submissions. In the last three years, all finalists were given the opportunity to share ideas and experiences at networking events in Vienna and Berlin and were honoured at a gala ceremony. To date, 1,600 guests from the political sphere and from all over Europe have attended.


About The Innovation in Politics Institute
The Innovation in Politics Institute is an international, non-governmental organisation that identifies, develops and implements innovation in politics in order to strengthen democracy in Europe and beyond. With a Europe-wide network of offices and partner organisations in 15 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), and together with political leaders at all levels, the institute is building tomorrow’s politics today.

Link to all winners and finalists: https://innovationinpolitics.eu/awards/awards-2020/ 

Information about the Awards: https://innovationinpolitics.eu/awards

Press materials: http://innovationinpolitics.eu/press/awards

Press contact:
Robert Schafleitner
The Innovation in Politics Institute
media@innovationinpolitics.eu
+43 (0) 660 628 30 77