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Small cities with big ideas compete in Mayors Challenge

York, England made the finals with an idea for overhauling its procurement practices. (Serg Zastavkin/ Shutterstock)

They range in size from 130,000 to more than eight million. The 21 cities selected as finalists for the 2014 Mayors Challenge, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, are a cross-section of Europe. Alongside iconic names such as London and Madrid are smaller, lesser known cities pushing big ideas.

Schaerbeek, Belgium wants to create individualized energy-reduction guides for its 130,000 citizens using sophisticated 3D geothermal mapping to help homeowners lower costs. Kirklees, England envisions an online forum that encourages a sharing economy. The city of 430,000 hopes to inspire government agencies and nonprofits to borrow and barter idle equipment.

To retain youth, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, population 170,000, would provide young entrepreneurs with startup funds for science- and tech-related ventures if they remain in the city or return after college. Only three percent of students who leave to study come back.

The contest is open to European cities with 100,000 or more residents. A total of 10 million British pounds ($16.8 million) will be awarded to five cities this fall. 

Bloomberg Philanthropies

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