On 1 October 2012, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, went to Lisbon with Margarida Sousa Uva, his wife. They together attended the launch event of the European Social Innovation Prize Competition in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, organised by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
In his speech the President highlighted that social innovation meant creating better ways to tackle some of the most challenging social problems. He added that the financial and economic crisis made it more important than ever. The EC was playing its vital part in supporting innovation paving the way out of the crisis.
"Unlocking today's potential for tomorrow's work" was the subtitle of the competition named after the late Portuguese innovator Diogo Vasconcelos. It invited participants to come up with ideas to create new and better jobs in Europe. Everybody could participate: entrepreneurs, students, charities to name only a few. All semi-finalists and finalists would benefit from a 9 month professional mentoring process helping them to transform their idea into a sustainable business venture. In May 2013, three prizes of €20 000 would be awarded by the Commission to the winning contributions.
The launch of the Competition was not by far a lone initiative by the EC in this field. On the contrary, the Commission fully acknowledged the importance of social innovation and social enterprises for Europe's future. Since 2011, the budget for Social Innovation in the Research Framework had tripled from 4 million to 12,5 million foreseen in 2013.
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