The winner is announced
On the evening of 24 September 2019, Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation awarded the ‘Horizon prize for social innovation’ at the EU Research and Innovation Days in Brussels, Belgium.
The €1 million Horizon Prize was awarded to the Walk With Path company for Path Finder. Path Finder shoe attachment helps people with an unsteady or irregular gait by creating automated visual cues using lasers and is hands-free.
The two runners-up were MyoSuit and Mob4seniors. Myosuit by MyoSwiss AG is a lightweight garment-like device that combines robotics with functional textiles, acting as a wearable muscle. Mob4Seniors project by the Municipality of Toulouse aims to increase the number of seniors taking part in municipal activities with the MonToulouse Senior card.
Why this prize
The European Union’s population is ageing. There will be 75 million people over the age of 65 in Europe in 2020, and 88 million in 2030. The share of people aged 65+ is set to increase from 17.5% of the population in 2010 to 29.5% in 2060 in the EU-27.
This means that we need to rethink existing mobility systems in order to cater for the needs of older people. At the same time, we need to help combat social exclusion and support independent living, especially for people with reduced mobility. Providing the right mobility solutions for older citizens enables them to continue to fully participate in cultural, educational and health activities and services, and to remain active participants of the economy. Developing new mobility solutions or improving existing ones will also provide new opportunities for innovative small companies, transport operators, social economy start-ups and NGOs at local, regional or national level.
The purpose of the contest was to develop innovative and sustainable mobility solutions for older people (65+). The prizes went to the applicants who - in the opinion of the jury - demonstrated solutions that best met the award criteria. The solutions - likely to combine technological, social and behavioral features - had to be implemented for several months during the contest period.
A jury assessed the work and progress made by the applicants during an implementation period of minimum 5 months between the opening of the prize and the submission of the applications, based on measurable evidence that the applicants provided. Applicants also had to demonstrate that their solution can be scaled-up and replicated in different contexts.
Walk With Path (Denmark): Best solution: €1 million
The Walk With Path company developed Path Finder: a shoe attachment to help people with an unsteady and irregular gait. It creates automated visual cues using lasers and is hands-free. The device is particularly helpful for people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, who commonly suffer from Freezing of Gait (FoG). FoG is when a person feels as if their feet are suddenly frozen to the ground when trying to take a step.
MyoSuit (Switzerland): Runner-up €250,000
MyoSwiss AG developed Myosuit - a lightweight garment-like device that combines robotics with functional textiles, acting as a wearable muscle. Myosuit uses intelligent algorithms and sensing technology to deliver continuous force assistance when needed, in an e-bike-like manner. Using these algorithms, MyoSuit detects the user’s movement patterns and provides optimal support to the lower limbs across everyday activities such as walking, stair negotiation and sitting transfers.
Mob4Seniors (France): Runner-up €250,000
The Municipality of Toulouse developed the MonToulouse Senior card as part of its Mob4seniors project to boost the number of seniors taking part in municipal activities. The intelligent personalised card offers a broad and scalable range of cultural, leisure, digital and sports services for senior citizens in Toulouse and its surrounding rural areas. This card also gives access to the Allô Seniors service, which provides hand-in-hand individual physical support to older residents in Toulouse.
Rules and guidance
Who can join the contest?
The contest is open to any legal entity or groups of legal entities established in EU Member States or in countries associated to Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme.
How will your application be evaluated?
Once the contest is closed, a high level jury will evaluate all eligible entries against the following award criteria: Measurability, Social impact, Economic impact, Community engagement, Scalability and replicability, Sustainability, Originality and creativity.
The European Commission's challenge prizes will be awarded to the entries that are the most innovative and have the largest social impact whilst meeting the award criteria. These best solutions should be developed and implemented for a period of at least 5 months during the contest period.