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Voidstarter: Irish project wins European Social Innovation prize
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22/05/2014 18:02:50

An Irish project, 'Voidstarter', has come out on top at the European Social Innovation Awards, sponsored by the European Commission. Voidstarter aims to put empty urban property to good use by using them as spaces for training and learning, refurbishing them, and turning them back in to homes. The project will provide unemployed people with learning opportunities alongside skilled tradespeople in the refurbishing of the empty houses.

    Michel Barnier, on the right, with Laura Howe and Simon O'Rafferty

    Simon O'Rafferty and Laura Howe are the Irish duo behind the project. Simon O'Rafferty said: "This prize is a great opportunity for Voidstarter. We want to put empty spaces around Dublin to good use, while creating opportunities for learning and development within communities in Dublin. It's win-win!"

    Voidstarter was one of 10 finalists from among over 1200 entrants, and one of three prize winners. The three winning projects were announced in Brussels this week; Voidstarter, an Italian fashion upcycling project, and a Belgian urban agriculture project.

    Social innovation can be a tool to create new or better jobs, while providing creative and innovative solutions to pressing social challenges. The three winning European Social Innovation projects offer ground-breaking ideas to create new types of work and address social needs. The projects are also great examples of innovation, with potential for impact and the ability to be scaled-up and sustained.

    Voidstarter hopes to use their prize money to launch a pilot project later this year.


    This is the second year of the competition and it will run again next year.

    The jury was composed of 12 experts in social innovation, independent from the European Commission and from various countries and backgrounds.

    Further information

    Competition webpage

    Last update: 22/05/2014  |Top