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European Commission offers €150,000 in social innovation competition

European Commission offers €150,000 in social innovation competition

A €150,000 challenge prize is on offer to Europeans who come up with the best ideas to spread the benefits of technological change in Europe under the theme of ‘Equality Rebooted’. The European Commission will award three €50,000 prizes.

The European Social Competition, launched today in Athens, aims “to ‘reboot’ equality and shape our future society by inspiring Europeans to provide fresh, energetic approaches to digital inclusion, collaborative economy, connectivity and skills development.”

The Commission is looking for innovations in tools, service and models to equip all members of society with the skills they need to be able to integrate and compete in a changing economy.


Diogo Vasconcelos

The European Social Innovation Competition was founded in 2012 in memory of Portuguese politician and social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos. It has a different theme each year.

This year’s launch event at the Benaki Museum in Athens heard from social innovators working in Greece and beyond including OpenLab Athens, Ondula, OuiShare, Fairmondo, as well as Impact Hub Athens and Nesta.

Amalia Zepou, Vice Mayor of Athens, said:

“Rising income inequality, a shifting labour market and digitalisation have brought significant change that is taking place across Europe, and we have also seen this first hand here in Greece. However, it’s now more clear than ever that social innovation has the power to catalyse positive change and new approaches around Europe.”



What kind of ideas?

The Commission has suggested the following ideas, but adds that these shouldn’t limit what entrants propose:

• New technologies and business models that make the digital economy more inclusive or use collaborative solutions to reduce inequality;

• Innovations that empower disadvantaged people to participate fully in the digital economy and gain revenue from employment or entrepreneurship;

• Initiatives that equip those at risk of being shut out of the labour market with the appropriate skills to shape the knowledge economy, such as creativity, communication or problem-solving;

• Solutions to protect and support low wage/skilled workers in the evolving labour market.



Who can enter?

The competition is open to entrepreneurs, social innovators, students, designers, makers, tech enthusiasts, educators, individuals, groups and organisations from throughout the and in countries participating in the European Horizon 2020 programme.

Thirty of the most promising applications will be chosen as semi-finalists and will be invited to a social innovation mentoring academy in Madrid in July to take their ideas further.

The three winning projects will be announced and receive their prizes of €50,000 at an awards ceremony in October 2017 in Brussels.

Applications to the European Social Innovation Competition close at midday on 7 April 2017 (Brussels time).

The competition is supported by Nesta, Kennisland, Shipyard, Impact Hub and Matter&Co.

You can find out about previous competitions and the winning projects for 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.





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Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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  • Ten Finalists have now been named in the 2017 European Social Innovation Competition. They were selected from a shortlist of 30 semi-finalists, out of almost 800 entries from more than 40 countries.

    They are:

    Basic income currency
    Collaborative Solutions

    Collaborative Solutions

    Collaborative Solutions

    Digital Employment/Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Groups

    Skills Development

    Digital Empowerment of persons with Disabilities

    Power of Language
    Digital Employment/Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Groups

    SEED- The Peer-to-Peer Learning Platform
    Collaborative Solutions

    Digital Employment/Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Groups

    Worker-owned apps for cleaners
    Solutions for low-wage/low-skilled workers

    Details on all at

    The 30 semi-finalists attended a mentoring academy in Madrid in July where they worked with experts in social innovation to refine their idea, before pitching to a jury of successful social innovators with expertise in digital innovation and skills development. Over the summer, they worked with an individual coach to develop their business plan. The jury have now critically evaluated each business plan and selected the 10 strongest entries.

    Three winners will be selected from the 10 Finalists and will each be awarded with a prize of €50,000 at the Awards Ceremony on 26 October 2017 in Brussels.

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