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Digital Innovation Challenge

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Get supportGet support in turning your idea into a service


Register to info sessions

Two info sessions will be organised before the application closes. The info sessions are a unique opportunity for you to understand the Challenge in more details, ask your questions and connect with the organisation team and participants. The first info session will take place on 25 November 2019. The second information session will take place on 30 January 2020.


Consult Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About the Challenge

To participate in the Digital Innovation Challenge please read carefully the instructions outlined in the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ document. You can submit your application here until the 28 February, 12.00 pm Brussels time.

The Digital Innovation Challenge is aimed at SMEs and startups, based in the EU, that are providers of digital services. More information is available in the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ document, section 3.3 ‘Eligibility criteria’.

Yes, the eligible SMEs and startups need to be headquartered in an EU Member State, Iceland or Norway. To have a registered office in the EU is not enough to be considered eligible.

Yes, NGOs can participate in the Challenge provided they qualify as SME or startup and comply with the eligibility and exclusion criteria.

The participation to the Challenge is free of charge.

The deadline for applications is 28 February 2020, 12.00 pm, Brussels time. This deadline is not flexible. Therefore, no applications will be accepted after this date.

If you are one of the 10 shortlisted candidates your travel expenses to participate in the Co-Creation workshop will be reimbursed. The same applies for the attendance of the 3 winners to the award ceremony.

You can find the success stories on the website here.

You can download the application form here. When filled in, please send it to us by e-mail. As a kind reminder, make sure that you completed the pre-registration before sending your application

A new version of the application is available! Based on the feedback received, the application form was simplified. Your application is still valid for submission. If you have already advanced with your current application, please contact the Support Team at EC-SMEs-Connecting-Europe@ec.europa.eu. You can also reach us at the following phone numbers +352 691 321 014 (Solene Vossot), or +352 691 321 159 (Eleonora Zoboli). If you have just started your application, we suggest you to close the current one, fill in the pre-registration and download the new form to start a new. Please note that the filling of the pre-registration is a mandatory first-step. We apologize for the inconvenience.

In addition, the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ have also been updated based on the feedback received, in order to clarify that SMEs and Startups from the UK are eligible for Challenge.

Logistics and support for the Challenge

Please go to the timeline to check the different milestones of the Challenge.

The application must be submitted in English. All the exchanges, communication and deliverables must be written in English.

There will be two info sessions, these FAQs and you can contact us anytime via EC-SMEs-Connecting-Europe@ec.europa.eu. The relevant questions received will be updated in the FAQs.

The participants should provide a relevant, viable, scalable, desirable and actionable concept proposal for a product/market fit service/solution reusing one or more of the solutions in scope of the Challenge. More information is available in the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ document, section 3.4 ‘Evaluation criteria’.

The participants to the Challenge will get the opportunity to:

  • Improve their awareness and knowledge about the open and reusable solutions provided by the European Commission
  • Get inspired by success stories of other SMEs and startups that already reused those solutions
  • Test and showcase how these solutions can bring added value to their business.

The best ten (10) shortlisted applications will be invited to attend a one-day co-creation bootcamp to:

  • Pitch their ideas, get visibility and receive feedback
  • Work with coaches and receive guidance to further develop their service/solution
  • Connect with people within the European Commission and other SMEs

The three (3) top ranked proposals will:

  • Get a financial reward up to EUR 50.000
  • Be invited to receive their prize at the Award ceremony to be held in the context of one of the flagship events of the European Commission in 2020
  • Get exposure that can contribute to their business growth

Participation requirements

After Phase 1 [Applicant], the outcome will be documented in an evaluation summary report with assigned scores for each of the criteria (cf. Table in the section 3.4 ‘Evaluation criteria’). After Phase 2 [10 shortlisted finalists] and the Phase 3 [3 winners], the feedback will be given directly by the jury to the participants. More information is available in the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ document, section 3.2 ‘Evaluation and selection process’.

The Web Summit marks the launch of the call for registrations. You can register anytime on our website and until 28 February 2020, 12.00 pm, Brussels time.

Only the 3 winners will have the chance to pitch their work and achievements at the award ceremony.

The evaluations will be carried out by appointed experts with experience and knowledge in the fields of digital transformation, digital services and business strategies. The review starts with an eligibility screening during the first round. More information is available in the ‘Guidelines for Applicants’ document, section 3.2 ‘Evaluation and selection process’ .

The final pitch will take place in a flagship event of the European Commission. More information on the award ceremony will be communicated soon.

In case the participants have two or more solutions to propose, it is encouraged to send only one application with the two or more solutions merged. Otherwise, it is possible to send an application per proposed solution, but the applications need to be clearly separated and distinguishable from each other for evaluation purposes.

Applicants can collaborate with other organisations, such as universities, for the application to the Challenge, as long as the application comes from an eligible SME or startup. Please note that the participant SME/startup will be leading the participation process, i.e. it is the SME/startup that will, if selected, participate in the co-creation workshop and be designated as winner.

What is expected from participants?

These solutions are technical specifications, open standards, software and tools that are free to use by any public and private sector entity. More information is available here.

Yes, it is possible to apply with a product that is already being commercialised and propose how making use of the reusable solutions can add value to it or bring it to a next level.

The proposed solutions can focus in any industry, sector or domain, as long as the participant SMEs and startups fulfil the eligibility criteria.

There is no requirement for the proposed solutions to be open source to compete in the Challenge.

SMEs or Startups that are headquartered in the UK are eligible to participate. Note, however, that this is contingent on that the current withdrawal agreement between UK and the EU (or a replacement agreement) remains in place during entire duration of the challenge, i.e. until the time of payment of the award. At this moment, the withdrawal agreement is expected to remain in force until the end of 2020 which makes your application eligible.


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