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York In Top 21 European Cities Final For Mayors Challenge

York Minster

5:24pm 23rd April 2014

York is one of 21 European cities that emerged as a final contender in its 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge, Bloomberg Philanthropies revealed today. The Mayors Challenge is a competition to inspire cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life, and that ultimately can spread to other cities.

One grand prize winner will receive €5 million for the most creative and transferable idea. Four additional cities will be awarded €1 million, and all will be announced in the fall. York aims to revolutionize the way citizens, businesses and others can propose new ideas to solve city problems, providing a more intelligent way to acquire or develop the best solutions.

The finalists’ proposed solutions address some of Europe’s most critical issue areas: youth unemployment, aging populations, civic engagement, economic development, environment and energy concerns, public health and safety, and making government more efficient.

"European cities in this year’s Mayors Challenge stepped up with bold and creative ideas that have the potential to improve lives across the continent and globe,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and 108th Mayor of New York City. “Cities face many urgent challenges – from climate change to social isolation to youth unemployment. We need city leaders to continually reach for innovative new ways to address urban challenges – and then share what’s working with the world. That’s what the Mayors Challenge is all about.”

Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council said: “Its incredible to get the news that York is one of just 21 cities out of 155 across Europe to make it to the final stages in the Mayors Challenge, and is reflective of the innovative partnership work taking place and already seeing results and being planned across the city.

“York is already part of the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network which is committed to finding better ways of working with local people for the benefit of our local communities. We recognise the energy and skills that exist within communities to address the challenges we collectively face. Council’s can’t and shouldn’t do everything - residents have said they want to be more involved in city governance and this is another factor in making this ambition a reality”.

The 2013-2014 Mayors Challenge is Bloomberg Philanthropies’ first in Europe after the inaugural competition in the United States. Cities with populations of at least 100,000 residents were invited to participate. The finalist cities have populations ranging from fewer than 250,000 residents to more than 1 million, and represent 11 countries across Europe. They were selected from 155 applicants and their proposed solutions (see following list) illustrate both complex challenges and common urban issues across cities and regions.

James Anderson, the head of government innovation for Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “While the ideas are very diverse, we identified key themes. The ideas tended toward networked, distributed solutions as opposed to costly centralized ones. There was a lot of interest in citizen engagement as both a means and end. Technology that concretely and positively affects the lives of individual citizens – from the blind person in Warsaw to the unemployed youth in Amsterdam to the homeowner in Schaerbeek -- also played a significant role.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies staff and an independent selection committee of 12 members from across Europe closely considered each application over multiple rounds of review, culminating in feedback and selection earlier this month, resulting in 21 cities’ ideas moving forward for further development. The submissions will be judged on four criteria: vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities.

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