Three €50,000 prizes awarded by the European Commission for the most innovative projects designed to reduce plastic waste.

Launched in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries. Now in its 7th year, the Competition acts as a beacon for social innovators in Europe, employing a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping society for the better. Each year the Competition is based around a different issue facing Europe. This year, the focus is:

Challenging Plastic Waste.

The competition is supported by a consortium of partners led by Nesta Challenges.


February - April 2019

Entry Period

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28th February: 2019 edition of the Competition launched in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The launch event brought together innovators, entrepreneurs and policy makers for an afternoon of networking and talks on social innovation in Ljubljana. 


We released our Idea Generation Kit to help entrants develop ideas to enter into the Competition. 


4th April: Entry period closes (12:00 Midday CEST).

All ideas for European Social Innovation Competition had to be submitted online by 4th April 12:00 CEST.

May - July 2019

First Phase of the Competition

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23rd May: 30 Semi-Finalists are announced. The Semi-Finalists receive a package of support from experienced social innovators to further the development of their ideas. Each Semi-Finalist is paired up with a local coach for 1-to-1 mentoring, as well as granted access to an online Pool of Experts for tailored advice on specific aspects of launching a social venture and provided with a series of exclusive webinars on key topics.


16th – 18th July: Social Innovation Academy takes places in Turin, Italy. All Semi-Finalists are eligible to send 2 representatives to a 3-day residential training academy providing further expert support for the development of their ideas, as well as connecting them to a community of other European social innovators.

July - September 2019

Second Phase of the Competition

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16th August: Semi-Finalists submit their Development Plans, outlining how they will successfully launch and scale their idea.   


16th September: 10 Finalists are announced. Finalists receive further remote training, including webinars from international experts and continued support from their coach. They are also given an opportunity to raise awareness of their project by pitching it live-on stage during the Awards Ceremony.

October 2019

Award Stage & Award ceremony

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Late October:

The Awards Ceremony takes place where 3 Winners – each receiving a 50,000 Euro cash prize – are announced.

We also aim to provide all Semi-Finalists and Finalists with insight on other sources of funding available to them after the Competition.


Third Phase of the Competition

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Spring 2020: The Impact Prize is launched. All 2019 Semi-Finalists, Finalists and Winners are eligible to enter.  

August 2020: Deadline for the completion of Impact Reports, which are used to determine the winner of the Impact Prize  


October 2020: The Impact Prize will be awarded to the eligible project that has achieved the most significant social impact in the past year, as outlined in their Impact Report. The winning project will receive a 50,000 Euro cash prize