Citizens to decide which challenge to be tackled with the first Social Innovation Horizon Prize
Brussels, 16 September 2015
The European Commission in cooperation with the European Investment Bank Institute will award a prize of €2 million to whoever can offer the best breakthrough that will help meet a problem facing the society. But which particular problem this will be is yet to be decided - by popular vote.
Starting today (16 September 2015) and until 21 October, citizens will be able to choose among five different challenges facing our society that they would like to see tackled in the coming years. Based on the outcome of the online voting, the Commission, in cooperation with the European Investment Bank Institute, will launch a Horizon Prize – an inducement prize that rewards whoever comes up with the best solution – on the challenge that received the most votes. The prize contest is expected to be launched in early 2016. The team that best meets the challenge will receive €2 million from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding programme.
Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Horizon 2020 is a flexible programme that adapts to the fast-developing, urgent problems that our society faces. Horizon Prizes ultimately aim to engage with everyone in Europe and be open to all innovators. With this public vote we want everyone in Europe to engage in the design of the first ever Horizon Prize on Social Innovation."
Social innovations bring forward new solutions that often merge technologies with organisational and social responses. These ultimately increase society's capacity to react to common challenges. With this new Horizon Prize, the European Commission puts new emphasis on social innovation as a powerful way of generating new responses to pressing social challenges.
The following five themes are up for vote:
- Childhood obesity: so that more children can live better and more fulfilled lives and grow up as healthier adults while saving high costs for European health systems;
- Aging population: so that aging would no longer hinder a healthy, active and socially engaged life, and elderly people would feel valued by their communities;
- Integration of immigrants in the labour market: so that legal immigrants in the EU are effectively integrated in the labour market, thereby contributing to European competitiveness and improving people's lives;
- Women-led enterprises growing in numbers and size: so that barriers that prevent women from choosing entrepreneurial careers are lifted and women's skills more fully contribute to a stronger European economy and society;
- Community-led clean energy generation, so that citizens are put in the driving seat to change the way energy is supplied and make it more sustainable, clean and safe.
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Horizon Prizes are a new kind of inducement prize by the European Commission that offer a cash reward to whoever can most effectively help meet a defined challenge with a breakthrough solution, leaving the contestants total freedom to come up with the most promising solutions. The aim is to engage communities to work towards a common goal, spur interest in a particular issue, attract new, dynamic innovators to an area, mobilise additional private investment for research and innovation, and stimulate novel, replicable solutions to the grand challenges for the benefit of European citizens. In 2015, five Horizon Prizes worth €6 million in total are being launched in the areas of health, environment and ICT under Horizon 2020, the European Union's research and innovation programme (IP/14/849).