Previous editions of the European Social Innovation Competition



2019 - Challenging Plastic Waste

The 7th European Social Innovation Competition: Challenging Plastic Waste.


Plastic waste has become ubiquitous. Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are generated each year. In the EU, 27.1 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic were collected in 2016. We need new solutions for the design, production and use of plastics, as well as for the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic waste and sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics. This challenge rewarded the most innovative approaches to reducing plastic waste and improving re-use and recycling at a systemic level.


  • MIWA from Czech Republic – An innovative, financially sustainable circular distribution and sales system for food and non-food products with reusable packaging.
  • SpraySafe from Portugal – An edible spray to be applied to the surface of foods to preserve them, thus reducing the need for plastic wrapping and containers.
  • VEnvirotech from Spain – A biotech start-up that transforms organic waste into biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics using bacteria.

2018 - ReThink Local

The 6th European Social Innovation Competition: Place based approaches to empowering young people in a changing economy.

Young people are the future. They should have the opportunity to fully participate in the economy. How? By acquiring the right skills, having a well-paid, rewarding job, and creating value for themselves and their community. At the same time, our economy is changing. New technologies, ways of working or migration impact places and communities, bringing both new opportunities and challenges.


  • Career Bus from Romania – This project aims to bring career orientation to young people living in small urban and rural areas faced with unemployment and population decline. In order to remedy this situation, the Romanian team behind the project plans to kit out a bus with an interactive space, which combines innovative technologies and face-to-face communication. They will then travel to remote communities and empower young people by providing them with the careers skills they need to boost employability.
  • HeritageLab from Slovenia – A project that teaches established innovation incubation methods to young people in small towns. By connecting local heritage institutions and young innovators of diverse backgrounds, it provides a structured incubation programme with business and specialist mentorships, training and testing for creating new businesses, job opportunities and innovations in the heritage sector. The principle aim behind all activities is to improve accessibility, digital solutions, sustainability and creativity.
  • Ulisse from Italy – The first ever European digital platform that creates, markets and promotes local travel experiences and full holiday bundles designed by deaf people for deaf people. It is committed to promoting the employment of young deaf people through tourism experiences and travel, as well as to foster international sign language education.

2017 - Equality Rebooted

The 5th European Social Innovation Competition: Ideas to ensure everyone in Europe benefits from the opportunities created by technological changes

A gap is growing between people with the skills and opportunities to take advantage of technological progress and those who do not, who face wage stagnation or even decline and job losses. Rising income inequality reflects this trend.

Economic growth needs not only to benefit the lucky few, but to provide opportunities for all. To create inclusive growth we must equip people with the skills they need to be able to compete in a changing economy and create business models that allow everyone to equally seize the opportunities offered by technological change.


  • Buildx from the United Kingdom – This collaborative platform offers individual users and local communities the knowledge and tools to design and build sustainable homes. Sustainable buildings become accessible to a broader public and cheaper. Which also means access to a larger market for the companies in the supply chain.
  • Feelif from Slovenia – A multimedia tool that allows blind and visually-impaired people to feel shapes on a flat screen. An app is combined with a relief grid that lets the user feel ‘bumps’ from shapes and contours on the screen through vibration signals. This inclusive technology can help blind people learn, read and create content.
  • Saga from the Netherlands – The project is a peer-to-peer learning network where users learn in-demand tech skills from industry experts in a flexible way. By using blockchain, all completed training and results are kept in a digital record. Users can invite community members to crowd-invest in their education. Investors can get a portion of the user’s future income in exchange.

2016: Integrated Futures

The 4th European Social Innovation Competition: Projects to support the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Europe

The EU has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of refugees and migrants travelling to the continent, with more than a million new arrivals in recent years. This unprecedented inflow of people, many of whom are vulnerable individuals seeking international protection, presents a challenge across Europe not only in terms of their immediate reception, but also in terms of their longer term integration in society. Innovative and creative approaches are needed to build inclusive communities and realise the potential contribution of refugees and migrants.


  • CUCULA from Germany – A practical workshop and an educational program created for and together with refugees and migrants in Berlin. It designs, manufactures, produces and sells products based on the concept of the Italian designer Enzo Mari, providing technical qualifications with focus on furniture production. It also runs an education program that includes German language classes, legal advice and additional support with CV writing, job applications, and daily life in Germany.
  • Project Virtuous Triangle from Turkey – Matches primary school children from Syria with young Turkish students, alongside a university age ‘coach student’ for tutoring, mentoring and language sharing. The project helps combat segregation in Turkey and means refugee children are more likely to be able to learn Turkish, attend school, and eventually get a job or open up other future opportunities. The project aims to increase its partnerships including private enterprises, government, schools, and other social innovators to promote community cohesion and solidarity from a young age.
  • The Machine to be Another from Spain – A cultural diversity and virtual reality experience sharing project designed to recreate, replicate, and share experiences so that someone can see themselves in the body and experience of a refugee. It uses a pre-recorded audio ‘narrative’ to create a story, and shares these encounters 360 virtual reality technology. The project aims to create stations of archived narratives from refugees and migrants all around Europe and the world in schools, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions.

2015: New Ways To Grow

The 3rd European Social Innovation Competition: Sustainable approaches to increasing financial growth and social progress

There is a common understanding that current models of growth are no longer fit for a society where scarcity is the new reality. New collaborations and alternative ways to grow are needed for sustainable value and inclusive society in Europe today.


  • Apiform from Bosnia – This project makes beekeeping accessible to people in wheelchairs, senior citizens, people with back pain or arthritis. By developing a beehive accessible from behind and from a lower level, Apiform allows more people to take part in the opportunities offered by beekeeping. They aim to replicate the model across countries to foster entrepreneurship and organic living, while helping to restore the bee population in Europe.
  • The Freebird Club from Ireland – This is a peer-to-peer social travel and homestay platform specifically designed for the over 50s. The idea applies ‘collaborative economy’ principles to address practical issues such as loneliness and financial sustainability for older people.The Freebird Club offers a new world of social travelling for older adults, with a membership-based model.
  • Wheeliz from France – This idea addresses accessibility and inclusion within the transport industry through a car-sharing platform. Public transport in many cities is not accessible for wheelchair users, and the use of specialised taxi services is not affordable. Wheeliz aims to pool the estimated 100,000 adapted cars owned in France, to create a shared fleet of automobiles available for rent by wheelchair users, with hopes to expand across Europe.

2014: More Jobs For Europe

The 2nd European Social Innovation Competition: Initiatives that create new or better jobs in Europe

Social innovation can be a tool to create new or better jobs, while giving an answer to pressing challenges faced by Europe.


  • ‘From waste to wow! QUID project’ from Italy – Fashion business demands perfection, and slightly damaged textile cannot be used for top brands. The project intends to recycle this first quality waste into limited collections and thereby provide jobs to disadvantaged women. This is about creating highly marketable products and social value through recycling.
  • ‘Urban Farm Lease’ from Belgium – Urban agriculture could provide 6,000 direct jobs in Brussels, and an additional 1,500 jobs considering indirect employment (distribution, waste management, training or events). The project aims at providing training, connection and consultancy so that unemployed people take advantage of the large surfaces available for agriculture in the city (e.g. 908 hectares of land or 394 hectares of suitable flat roofs).
  • ‘Voidstarter’ from Ireland – All major cities in Europe have “voids”, units of social housing which are empty because city councils have insufficient budgets to make them into viable homes. At the same time these cities also experience pressure with social housing provision and homelessness. Voidstarter will provide unemployed people with learning opportunities alongside skilled tradespersons in the refurbishing of the voids.

2013: Jobs for the Economically Deprived

The 1st European Social Innovation Competition

Social innovation can create new products, services and businesses to strengthen Europe’s relative position in growing fields such as healthcare and environmental services. Social innovators design public services that are better tailored to citizens’ needs and greater value for money, and can unlock fresh talent and skills to address pressing unmet needs.


  • Community Catalysts from the United Kingdom – This idea proposes connecting talents in business and communities to create jobs for social benefit by helping people to use their creativity to set up sustainable, small-scale social care and health services that people can afford. These micro-enterprises could be offered by a wide range of people, including disabled, older and family carers. Community Catalysts want to extend their current reach and impact through a managed network of professional business and professional mentors supporting community entrepreneurs throughout the UK via an on-line platform. 
  • Economy App  from Germany – This project aims to improve access to the job market for economically deprived by making their skills widely visible. This can be anything from home-made cheese to carpooling to computer support or any other product or service that can reasonably be provided in a home or small business setting. Economy App collects information from users on what they could offer in a local economy and what their economic needs are. The software keeps a record of the value of products and services provided and accepted for every person in this economic network and so no money ever needs to change hands. 
  • MITWIN.NET from Spain – Aims to reduce youth unemployment by job sharing among young and older employees. The project proposes an inter-generational professional network conceived to facilitate contact between people in order to share a job post and knowledge, with the main goal of reducing the high rate of youth unemployment. MITWIN.NET proposes that older workers share a job with younger people, allowing those approaching retirement to share knowledge with those being incorporated into the job market, easing both entry and exit from the job market and addressing young unemployment.