Newcastle competes against European cities for cash prize

Newcastle is competing against top European cities for a jackpot of more than £4m. The cash is up for grabs as part of the Mayors Challenge

Grey Street in Newcastle
Grey Street in Newcastle

Newcastle is competing against top European cities for a jackpot of more than £4m.

The cash is up for grabs as part of the Mayors Challenge, which is urging cities to come up with bold and innovative ideas to help improve their area.

The winner will get 5m euros - nearly £4.2m - and four runners up will receive 1m euros.

So far, 182 cities have registered, including London, Ankara, Berlin, Madrid, Rome and Paris. In the UK, 29 cities have thrown their hat into the ring including Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool and Manchester.

Now Newcastle City Council is urging people to come up with proposals to help win the prize.

The ideas must address a serious problem and help tackle issues such as improving neighbourhoods or dealing with inequality. They must be something the authority can develop over the next three years. Council leader Nick Forbes said: “Newcastle is a city with a strong creative spirit and this competition gives us the opportunity to prove that by tapping into the imagination of local people.

“I’m really excited by the chance of bringing in extra resources and harnessing the spirit of innovation and invention that has been alive in the city since the days of the industrial revolution. Let’s see what we can come up with.”

The competition, organised by Bloomberg Philanthropies, unearthed a host of winning ideas when it was launched in the USA and is hoping to do the same in Europe.

Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, said: “The Mayors Challenge has been a big success here in the United States and now we’re bringing it across the Atlantic to find a whole new set of cutting-edge ideas.

“On so many issues, cities are redefining the future, and the Mayors Challenge is intended to help accelerate that progress and spread it far and wide. The response to the competition has been extremely enthusiastic all across Europe.

“The need for public sector innovation has never been greater, and we’re excited to see so many European leaders join this competition.”

A panel of judges will choose the best idea based on vision, potential impact, practicality, and the potential to spread to other cities.

But none of the best plans will go to waste - they may come to fruition over time, with funding found from other sources.

The contest is being promoted across Europe by the Eurocities network, which includes Newcastle-Gateshead.

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, mayor of Warsaw and president of Eurocities, added: “The Mayors Challenge represents the kind of creative problem solving and flexible funding that can help European cities innovate.

“It offers resources, not just prize money but peer support too, for developing ideas into practical solutions. I’m confident that the recognition the Mayors Challenge offers will inspire many other cities. Eurocities is pleased to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies.”

The application process is being handled by the networking and support organisation International Newcastle.

For details, visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/mayorschallenge

Alternatively, people can request an application form by emailing info@internationalnewcastle.org.uk.

The deadline for completed entries is midday on January 8. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to an idea development workshop before the final decision is made.

Bloomberg Philanthropies focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change - public health, environment, education, government innovation, which includes the Mayors Challenge, and the arts.

The organisation encompasses all of Michael Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2012, $370m was distributed through the group.

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