Bloomberg Awards $11.6 Million to European Cities

The second installment of Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor's Challenge moves to Europe to accelerate civic solutions for five cities.

by / September 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Flickr/Center for American Progress-Ralph Alswang

On Sept. 17, Bloomberg Philanthropies delivered more than $11.6 million in winnings to five European cities for civic initiatives that support elderly assistance, civic collaboration, climate change, the sharing economy and assistance for the visually impaired.

Winnings cities were released as part of Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Challenge, a civic idea competition for cities of 100,000-plus to solve urban problems. Winners included Barcelona, Spain;  Athens, Greece; Stockholm; Warsaw, Poland; and Kirklees, England. The competition represents the second installment of the year-long competition following its inaugural U.S. launch that ran from 2012 to 2013.

“The decision for our selection committee was not easy, but the five winning ideas we announced today represent the best of the best, and all have the potential to improve lives,” said founder Michael Bloomberg in a statement.

Among the five awardees, Barcelona took the grand prize of nearly $6.5 million (€5 million). The money will establish “Collaborative Care Networks for Better Aging,” a digital campaign to create support networks of family members, friends, neighbors, social workers and volunteers who care for the city’s rising population of the elderly age 65 and over. The city estimates that by 2040, one in four residents will fall into the age group. No specifics technologies -- Web platforms, apps, smart devices or others -- were listed in the release; however, goals are to use networks and “low-tech” to identify care gaps, coordinate support and increase quality of life for seniors.

The four additional winners each received roughly $1.3 million (€1 million). Athens won for a public online platform it will develop to engage citizens by pitting government and community institutions against civic problems. Kirklees will create a sharing economy app and platform to pool resources of local goods and services. Stockholm intends to confront climate change by incentivizing residents to produce biochar, an organic substance to increase tree growth, confine carbon and purify water from storm runoff. And last, Warsaw will endeavor to attach thousands of beacons throughout the city for a mobile app that navigates the visually impaired.

The five were chosen from 155 cities and 28 nations that applied. “These winning ideas embody key themes that will increasingly define the way cities work: engage citizens, leverage technology, never accept the failed status quo,” said James Anderson, head of Government Innovation programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies.