Europe is facing a unique set of challenges, ranging from an ageing population’s battle against chronic disease to young people’s inability to find suitable employment. To that end, the European Commission is dedicated to finding solutions that meet both our social and economic needs.
Through the European Social Innovation Competition, the Commission is identifying new sources for jobs created by today’s most pressing challenges.
Climate change, increase in chronic diseases, social exclusion and material poverty are some of the most challenging problems of our times. On the top of all that, more than 25 million Europeans are out of work, and many others are stuck in low-paying jobs or sense that they have few opportunities in the job market.
In the current economic and financial crisis, we need to look for new ideas that simultaneously meet social needs and create new solutions, new opportunities and new markets. We need changes that benefit society and at the same time address economic problems.
In other words: we need social innovation.
There are many fields in which social innovation can benefit a wide range of demographics. For instance, social innovation is responsible for ideas to combat school drop-out with initiatives such as second-chance schools, which address a social problem and also create job opportunities in the education sector. Social innovation also created new services geared towards an ageing population, thereby helping the elderly live in comfort and dignity but also providing working-aged people with employment opportunities. Nowadays, we need these new innovative ideas more than ever.
In order to unlock fresh talent, skills, experience and insights of people who have a great deal to offer to our economy and society, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has launched the European Social Innovation Competition.
If you have an idea, join the competition and compete to win one of the three cash prizes of €20 000, which will be awarded by Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, in May 2013.
Whether you are an entrepreneur, a group of students, a local community organisation or a charity in Europe – you can participate. We encourage you to think and act differently to combat today’s myriad challenges. We need your ideas for social innovation in Europe, and in turn we will give you the opportunity to transform those ideas into new ventures and businesses.
Even if they do not reach the final stage, the best entries will be offered coaching, networking and visibility. After the ceremony, outstanding participants will benefit from additional mentoring support to mature their implementation plans.
With this competition, the European Commission not only offers an opportunity to utilise creativity and passion to come up with new solutions to challenging problems, but also to truly help people move towards work or into new types of work.