Launch of the 2018 European Social Innovation Competition

On 20th March, the 2018 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition was launched in Paris. The competition, run by the European Commission, aims to foster and showcase social innovations, ideas and projects across Europe. Under the heading RE:THINK LOCAL, this year's edition is looking for ideas to empower young people to seize and create economic opportunities in their local area by means of new technologies and new ways of working. The three winning projects will be awarded €50,000 each for ideas that use local characteristics to create opportunities for youth in a changing economy.

"In recent years, the economy has been changing rapidly - there are many new ways to do business, use technology or work. In some regions and local communities, these changes have brought prosperity, in others people are struggling to adapt and those who can are moving to seek jobs elsewhere. To help create opportunities locally, the 2018 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition looks for new ideas to boost the chances for young people in their local communities. The three winning projects will be awarded €50,000 each to help them get their ideas off the ground and make a real difference," said Sławomir Tokarski, Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. He also added that the best ideas might be scaled-up or replicated across Europe and was particularly happy to see the competition launched in Paris.

The launch programme included insights, challenges and case studies from innovators and experts coming both from France and all over Europe, such as OuiShare, SenseCube / MakeSense, Voxe, Ashoka France, Mondragon Team Academy, Fondazione Mondo Digitale and Projektfabrik. It also explored approaches to support young people who struggle to find a footing in their local economy.

While new technologies and new ways of working already benefit certain sections of society and certain places, other areas threaten to be left behind. Young people must be able to fully participate in the economy and to make the most of new opportunities by developing new, adapted skills and capabilities, regardless of where they live.

This year's challenge is for ideas and projects that make use of technologies or approaches to work that revitalise regions or local communities that risk losing their young people and their talents due to lack of economic opportunities.

Ideas could include but are not limited to:
  • Initiatives that use new technologies and ways of working to provide opportunities for marginalised youth within their local communities;
  • Ideas that assist young people who wouldn't otherwise have become innovators in creating their own opportunities for smart, inclusive and sustainable employment in their local environment;
  • Ideas co-created with young people to respond to specific requirements in their local community for skills, experiences and opportunities;
  • Solutions to improve the quality of life and financial security of youth in irregular work;
  • Innovations that provide information, advice and guidance to young people so they can navigate the options in the new economy;
  • Programmes that equip the next generation of workers with skills that allow young people to harness technological change.

The competition calls on social innovators, entrepreneurs, students, designers, tech enthusiasts, educators, doers and makers, movers and shakers - people who have a great idea and want to turn it into an initiative that's beneficial for their community and can be applied in other locations, too. Individuals, groups and organisations from the European Union and Horizon 2020 associated countries.

The competition process includes tailored business development coaching for the semi-finalists, namely thirty of the most promising applications, who will be selected by a jury of experts and invited to a social innovation mentoring academy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in July. In the final round following submission of detailed business plans, the three prize winners will be selected by the jury. Through this process, the most innovative ideas and initiatives are enabled to achieve sustainable impact.

Organised since 2012 in memory of the Portuguese politician and social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition runs with a new theme each year, focused on addressing a different issue in Europe each time.

Applications are open until 27 April 2018 (12:00, noon Brussels time). For full details please visit:

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