European Social Innovation Competition

European Social Innovation Competition

The European Social Innovation Competition is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all Horizon 2020 associated countries. Organised in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, the Competition calls all Europeans to come up with solutions to the problems affecting our society. This year's competition will launch with an event in Paris on 20 March 2018.

The 2018 competition

In March, top EU innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers meet in Paris to talk social innovation. This event will include the announcement of the 2018 competition theme and the official opening of entries. You can register for the launch event now. The agenda for will follow soon.

Information on the theme, rules of contest and application procedures, will be available on this page shortly after the launch event.

The 2017 winners

The 3 winners of the 2017 Social Innovation Competition were awarded for making technological change and digital transformation more inclusive. An impact prize was also awarded to the project from 2016 with the most success. Selected out of 800 entries from 40 countries, 3 projects won prizes of €50,000 each in Brussels. They are:

  • Buildx from the UK - an open source platform reinventing home building
  • Feelif from Slovenia - a multimedia tool for blind and visually impaired people
  • Saga from The Netherlands - a peer to peer learning platform

The winners were awarded on 26 October.
See the profiles of all the semi-finalists, finalists and winners.


Winners of the 2017 Social Innovation Competition

2017 theme: Equality rebooted

European societies are transforming rapidly due to technological change. Digitalisation and automation are 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.

Social innovation can counterbalance the gap between people that have the skills for this modern market and those who do not. The rise in income inequality can be neutralised by targeted investments in new technologies and the skills they require. Economic growth shouldn't only benefit the lucky few but provide opportunities for all.

The 2017 European Social Innovation Competition sought to ‘reboot’ equality by promoting fresh approaches to digital inclusion, connectivity, and skill development.

The competition looked for inspiring ideas from people all around Europe who believe in building an inclusive economy and making the most of skills and technologies to close the gap in our society.

The competition champions inclusivity by encouraging ideas to equip people with the skills they need to compete in a changing economy. We want innovators to create business models that give everyone an equal chance to seize opportunities brought by technological change.

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

Sought after ideas included, but were 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

Watch the 2017 promotional video.

The competition process

The competition has 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.

Phase 2: Out of the 30 semi-finalists, 10 finalists were invited to the awards ceremony where the 3 final winners received 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.

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 Ceremony26 October 2017, Brussels

The competition is now closed. It 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 was governed by the rules of contest below, these are specified in the FAQs. All documents are still available for information purposes only.

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: