European Social Innovation Competition

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European Social Innovation Competition

The 2017 Social Innovation Competition aims to make technological change and digital transformation more inclusive. The 3 winners of the competition will each receive a prize of €50,000.

2017 theme: Equality rebooted

European societies are transforming rapidly due to technological change. Trends such as digitalisation and automation are changing the way we live and work faster than ever before, reshaping the labour market and wider economy in fundamental ways.

Digital businesses, creative industries, high tech manufacturing, and knowledge-intensive services are creating increasing value for the economy, driving and taking advantage of technological change. Low tech, labour-intensive manufacturing and routine jobs in the service sector are at high risk of disruption.

A gap is growing between these two sides: people with the skills and opportunities to take advantage of this transformation and those who do not. Rising income inequality reflects this trend; with increasing profits going to fewer beneficiaries, and being counterbalanced by wage stagnation or job cuts.

Social innovation can shape this future differently. Economic growth shouldn't only benefit the lucky few but provide opportunities for all.

The 2017 European Social Innovation Competition seeks to ‘reboot’ equality by inspiring fresh and energetic approaches to digital inclusion, connectivity, and skills development.

The competition is looking for inspiring ideas, large and small, from people all around Europe who believe in building a truly inclusive economy and making the most of skills and technologies to close the gap in our society.

The competition aims to enable inclusive growth by encouraging ideas to equip people with the skills they need to be able to compete in a changing economy. We want innovators to create business models giving everyone an equal chance to seize opportunities brought by technological change.

The competition is open to entrepreneurs, social innovators, students, designers, makers, tech enthusiasts, educators, and people from diverse backgrounds across Europe.

Ideas could include, but are not limited to:

  • New technologies and business models that make the digital economy more inclusive or use collaborative solutions to reduce inequality;
  • Innovations that empower disadvantaged people to fully participate in the digital economy and gain revenue from employment or entrepreneurship;
  • Initiatives that equip those at risk of being shut out of the labour market with the appropriate skills to shape the knowledge economy, such as creativity, communication or problem-solving;
  • Solutions to protect and support low wage/skilled workers in the evolving labour market.

Out of almost 800 ideas received this year we've selected 30 semi-finalists who will receive support to further progress their ideas during the Social Innovation Academy in Madrid. Check out their profiles.

What are the rules

The competition is open to individuals, groups and organisations across the European Union and in countries participating in the European Horizon 2020 programme (see list).

It’s governed by the following rules of contest, which may be clarified in the FAQs. A template of the entry form is also available for information.

The competition process

The competition is organised in 3 phases:

Phase 1: Out of the total of eligible entries received by the deadline, 30 semi-finalists were selected to receive mentoring support and further progress their ideas. They were invited to take part in a Social Innovation Academy in Madrid and to network with other European organisations and potential partners in their field of activity.

Phase 2: Out of the 30 semi-finalists, 10 finalists will be invited to the awards ceremony where the 3 final winners will receive a prize of €50,000 each.

Phase 3: in 2018, the competition amongst the 30 semi-finalists will be re-opened and award the 2017 project having achieved the most significant results with an impact prize of €50,000.

In order to select the best entries throughout the competition, the European Commission is supported by an external jury.

Timeline of the competition:

Launch of the competition: 28 February 2017, Athens

  • Deadline to submit an entry: 7 April 2017 at 12.00.00 (noon, Brussels Time)
  • 1st jury meeting in Brussels: 31 May 2017
  • Announcement of the 30 semi-finalists: 6 June 2017
  • Social Innovation Academy for semi-finalists: 3-5 July 2017, Madrid
  • Submission of detailed plans by semi-finalists: 31 August 2017
  • 2nd jury meeting in Brussels: 19 September 2017
  • Announcement of the finalists: 20 September 2017
  • Awards Ceremony: 26 October 2017, Brussels

The timeline for the re-opening of the Competition for the impact prize will be announced in early 2018.

Competition background

The European Social Innovation Competition has been organised 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: info@socialinnovationprize.eu.