The winning projects aim to help disadvantaged women by employing them to create affordable and limited fashion collections, create jobs in the sector of urban farming, and convert abandoned social housing into learning spaces and entrepreneurship labs.
After the success of the first edition in 2013, the European Commission launched a second round of the Social Innovation Competition in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos1. Its main goal was to invite Europeans to propose new solutions to answer The Job Challenge. The Commission received 1,254 ideas out of which three were awarded with a prize of €30,000 each.
Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "We believe that the winning projects can take advantage of unmet social needs and create sustainable jobs. I want these projects to be scaled up and replicated and inspire more social innovations in Europe. We need to tap into this potential to bring innovative solutions to the needs of our citizens and create new types of work."
More jobs for Europe – three outstanding ideas
The following new and exceptional ideas are the winners of the second edition of the European Social Innovation Competition:
- 'From waste to wow! QUID project' (Italy): fashion business demands perfection, and slightly damaged textile cannot be used for top brands. The project intends to recycle this first quality waste into limited collections and thereby provide jobs to disadvantaged women. This is about creating highly marketable products and social value through recycling.
- 'Urban Farm Lease' (Belgium): urban agriculture could provide 6,000 direct jobs in Brussels, and an additional 1,500 jobs considering indirect employment (distribution, waste management, training or events). The project aims at providing training, connection and consultancy so that unemployed people take advantage of the large surfaces available for agriculture in the city (e.g. 908 hectares of land or 394 hectares of suitable flat roofs).
- 'Voidstarter' (Ireland): all major cities in Europe have “voids”, units of social housing which are empty because city councils have insufficient budgets to make them into viable homes. At the same time these cities also experience pressure with social housing provision and homelessness. Voidstarter will provide unemployed people with learning opportunities alongside skilled tradespersons in the refurbishing of the voids.
The jury was composed of 12 experts in social innovation, independent from the European Commission and from various countries and backgrounds. Each of the proposals from the finalists clearly illustrates innovation, potential for impact and ability to be scaled-up and sustained.