European Social Innovation Competition

European Social Innovation Competition

The 2016 Social Innovation Competition focuses on social innovation for refugees and migrants. The call for entries closed on 8 April 2016 and 1,095 ideas were received. The 10 finalists of the competition have now been selected. They are competing for the three prizes of €50,000, which will be awarded in Brussels on 27 October 2016.

The semi-finalists

Of the 1,095 entries received from 36 countries altogether, 30 great ideas were first selected as semi-finalists of the competition.

The 30 semi-finalists had the opportunity to participate in a social innovation academy which was organised in Berlin on 4-6 July 2016 in partnership with the BMW Foundation. The semi-finalists met experts and organisations active in the field (see the programme reader). Before and after the academy, they also received customised mentoring to advance their idea.

The competition reopened and the 30 semi-finalists were asked to submit a detailed plan to explain how they will pilot, implement and sustain their project to achieve the greatest impact. On the basis of the detailed plans that they sent, 10 finalists have now been selected to compete for the 3 prizes of € 50,000.

The selected projects reflect the great diversity of solutions that were sourced. They provide responses to the needs of migrants and improvements to integration schemes, in fields such as skills development, entrepreneurship, access to the labour market, housing or health services.

Follow @EUSocialInnnov on Twitter for the latest details on each project.

2016 theme: Integrated Futures

The European Commission called for innovations in products, technologies, services and models that can support the integration of refugees and migrants. Innovations can relate to any aspect of the reception and integration process including, but not limited to, ideas around:

  • education and skills development
  • employment and entrepreneurship
  • access to appropriate housing and health services
  • safety and human rights
  • community cohesion and cultural diversity.

Applications that are led by or have been co-created with refugees and migrants were encouraged.

Theme background

Europe has recently witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of refugees and migrants travelling to the continent with more than a million new arrivals.

This unprecedented inflow of people, many of whom are vulnerable individuals seeking international protection, presents a challenge across Europe. Not only in terms of their immediate reception, but also with regard to their long-term integration into society.

Throughout history, common values and the collective identity of Europe have been shaped by the help of the diversity of its people. The shift in population and migration represents not only a challenge but also an opportunity to build new inclusive communities and to grow Europe’s economy.

Many refugees and migrants have the potential to be the next entrepreneurs and innovators, but without the right support, their skills could be wasted and they may become marginalised.

Innovative and creative approaches are needed to realise the potential of refugees and migrants. This year’s competition is therefore entitled Integrated Futures.

For more background on innovative and effective approaches to migrant integration, read the series Beyond Crisis: Migrant Integration put together by the Social Innovation Community.

How to enter the competition

It is no longer possible to enter the 2016 competition. The competition was open to individuals, groups and organisations across the European Union and in countries participating in the European Horizon 2020 programme (see list).

The competition is governed by the following rules of contest, which are specified in the FAQs. A template of the entry form is also available for information.

The competition process

The competition has two phases:

Phase 1: Out of the 1,095 entries received, 30 semi-finalists were selected to receive mentoring support to advance their ideas. They took part in the Social Innovation Academy to network with other European organisations and potential partners in their field of activity.

Phase 2: Out of the 30 semi-finalists, 10 finalists have been selected and they will be pitching their idea at the Awards Ceremony on 27 October in Brussels, where the 3 final winners will receive a prize of €50,000 each.

In order to select the best entries throughout the competition, the European Commission is supported by an external jury (316 KB) made up of 12 experts.

Timeline of the competition:

  • Launch of the competition: 25 February 2016, Amsterdam
  • Deadline to submit an entry: 8 April 2016, 12:00:00 (noon, Brussels time)
  • 1st jury meeting in Brussels: 31 May 2016
  • Announcement of the 30 semi-finalists: 3 June 2016
  • Social Innovation Academy for semi-finalists: 4-5-6 July 2016, Berlin
  • Submission of detailed plan by semi-finalists: 2 September 2016, 23:59:59 (Brussels time)
  • 2nd jury meeting in Brussels: 27 September 2016
  • Announcement of the finalists: 30 September 2016
  • Awards Ceremony: 27 October 2016, Brussels (register)

Competition background

The European Social Innovation Competition has been organised annually since 2012 in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos. Take a look at the previous competitions:


Follow our #diogochallenge journey on Twitter: @EUSocialInnov.

For questions about the competition, please email: