Innovation as a mindset | A culture that reengaged those who had lost faith in the city | Proving you can do more with less

Athens was named the European Capital of Innovation 2018 after using innovation to overcome difficulties.

Greece is at the forefront of the European social and political crises. Athens is its lab. In areas with urban challenges, where social welfare was badly hit, Athens had to find fast and effective solutions. Athens had to re-invent itself.

The city did not hesitate to invest in long-term resilience strategies. With budget cuts and shrinking staff numbers, Athens managed to reach out to the untapped capacity of the entire city. Even before the terminology entered its vocabulary, Athens was innovating out of necessity. Social innovation occurred naturally when Athens turned to its citizens, with new models of engagement and participation that were unintentionally similar to models of Greece’s ancient city-states.

A wide range of small-scale experiments have managed to pull Athens out of a dark place to the forefront of Europe’s 21st century. It is proof that with innovation, cities can do more with less.

Athens sees itself as a role model, not necessarily for well-resourced and powerful cities, but for having embraced its compassionate and committed communities. This cultural leap forward makes Athens a pioneer for the type of innovation that prepares societies so they can better address the challenges of the future.

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