Launch of the European Social Innovation Prize in Lisbon
Social innovation means creating better ways to tackle some of the most challenging social problems. The current financial and economic crisis makes it more important than ever. European Commission plays its vital part in supporting innovation paving the way out of the crisis.
"Unlocking today's potential for tomorrow's work" is the subtitle of the competition named after the late Portuguese innovator Diogo Vasconcelos. It invites participants to come up with ideas to create new and better jobs in Europe. Everybody can participate: entrepreneurs, students, charities to name only a few. All semi-finalists and finalists will 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 EUR will be awarded by the Commission to the winning contributions.
While launching the Competition, President Barroso gave his personal tribute to Diogo Vasconcelos, who was at the origin of both European Social Innovation in general and the idea of launching a Competition across Europe: "Diogo used to say that people have to be empowered and not just be passive users of today's new technologies. Each of us is like a small pixel and once connected with the other pixels we can play a big role." This Competition's aim is exactly that: to connect little pixels so they can form a beautiful picture together.
The launch of the Competition is not by far a lone initiative by the European Commission in this field. On the contrary, the Commission fully acknowledges the importance of social innovation and social enterprises for Europe's future. Since 2011, the budget for Social Innovation in the Research Framework has tripled from 4 million to 12,5 million foreseen in 2013. Important provisions enabling and encouraging Social Enterprises as well as Corporate Social Responsibility are included in the Europe 2020, Europe's growth strategy, as well as in the key regulations such as Single Market Act I and Single Market Act II that is on the Commission agenda this Wednesday.