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Industrial innovation

2013 Prize – Unlocking potential, creating new work

Few issues have as acute a need for social innovation as tackling unemployment. Across European Member States millions of people are either unemployed, under-employed, some are in unsustainable employment, and others are economically inactive. It is a major challenge – not least for the people who are searching for new jobs, but also for society as a whole. But this challenge is not dealing with statistical figures and numbers; it is about human beings, communities and opportunities.

That's why we need new ideas on how to unlock fresh talent, skills, experience and insights of people who have a great deal to offer to our economy and society. How can we tap into today’s potential to create new forms of work for tomorrow?

The EU Commission is offering a prize to social innovations that have a real impact on helping more people move towards work or into new types of work. The target groups for your idea could include for example (and do not limit yourself to these examples!) unemployed or disadvantaged people, young people out of school/studies looking for a job or willing to set up their own businesses, elderly people interested to or having to keep an activity, or various joining forces in a community. No prior assumption is made on the target groups which may be chosen or on the opportunities which may explored; only the potential result matters, i.e. helping people to move towards work or into new types of work through social innovation.

These could include radical ideas that find new opportunities in current social challenges that:

  • Unlock or tap people’s talent. For example, adapting new technology platforms to stimulate demand for local services; connecting individuals to work; or offering job placements or training. Examples might be individuals with specific needs, such as senior citizens who require care in their homes; or innovative work patterns.
  • Create or shape new markets. For example, ideas that support the creation or expansion of new markets, often by influencing behaviour. These could include new solutions in growth sectors such as green economy, medical technologies, complementary currencies and vouchers to mobilise capital.
  • Enable people to start and grow successful new businesses. For example, encouraging sole traders or one-man businesses to take on a young person, supporting franchising, minimizing the risk and providing support for people as they make transition from being out of work into starting a new business.

The jury is composed on 10 experts in social innovation, independent from the Commission and from various countries and backgrounds. They will make a recommendation to DG Enterprise and Industry on the list of semi-finalists, in the first place and on the finalists and winners, eventually.

Main features of the Competition are presented below and can also be found in this flyer pdf - 793 KB [793 KB] and in this presentation pdf - 745 KB [745 KB] .

Questions about the Competition can still be emailed to

Eligibility Criteria for 2013 Prize

The competition was open to everyone legally established or resident in the EU member states - or in those countries that established an agreement to participate in the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme – including individuals, organisations or unconstituted groups.

Ideas could come from all sources and sectors and all types of organisations including for-profit, non-for-profit, or private companies.

Judging Criteria for the 2013 Prize

Successful entries will be the ones that best meet the criteria outlined below.


New approaches, or ideas combined or implemented in new ways.

Potential for Systemic Change

  • Impact
    Demonstrated potential measurable impact on helping your target group moving towards/into work.
  • Scale
    Ideas that can be replicated or transferred to another EU Member State or more.

Potential for sustainability

Ideas that can be sustained to continue to have significant positive impacts on helping the target groups moving towards/into work over several years.

Competition timelines for the 2013 Prize

Stage 1: Open Call
1 October – 21 December 2012 at 11:59:59 Central European Time (noon) - Deadline for Entries.

Stage 2: Up to 30 Entries selected
January-February 2013 – Assessment of received entries and selection of the semi-finalists.

Stage 3: Mentoring for the semi-finalists
March 2013 – Shortlisted entries invited to attend a two day mentoring session to support the development of their ideas.

Stage 4: Submission by semi-finalists of their updated entries
12 April 2013 at 11:59:59 Central European Time (noon) – Deadline to re-submit shortlisted entries based on the lessons learnt from the mentoring session.

Stage 5: Up to 10 finalists invited and 3 winners selected
29 May 2013 – Award ceremony and each winner receives a prize of 20,000 euros to implement her/his idea.

Stage 6: Mentoring of the finalists and winners
July 2013 – Winners and finalists invited for an extra one-day mentoring session.

2013 Prize winners

The three best proposals - Community Catalysts (United Kingdom), Economy App (Germany) and MITWIN.NET (Spain) - were each awarded with a prize of 20,000 euros on 29 May 2013 (see the press release, watch the best of the ceremony!). The second round of the Competition will be launched on 11 of October 2013 in Milan. Follow us on Twitter @EUSocialInnov #diogochallenge!

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