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LA ALMUNIA DE DOÑA GODINA, Spain — Crisscrossed by irrigation canals — one of which was built by the Moors in the Middle Ages — and surrounded by fields filled with peach, apple and cherry orchards, this place, at first glance, is a traditional fruit-farming village in northeast Spain.

But in June last year, La Almunia received an unlikely distinction for a village with a population of around 8,000: The Spanish government named it a “City of Science and Innovation.” The title has been given annually since 2010 to cities and towns that promote research and development in both the public and private sectors. Award-winning cities form a network in which they share ideas and showcase innovations. And each city is given an annual grant, renewable every four years, to hire “innovation officers,” capable of identifying opportunities for local technological development.

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