What is social innovation? Put simply, it’s finding creative and innovative solutions to issues and challenges that affect society and increasing the wellbeing of people. It’s ideas that challenge and address issues like poverty, inequality, climate change, unemployment, racism, mass migration, and malnutrition, to name but a few.
Since 2013, the European Commission has run the European Social Innovation Competition to support social innovators in Europe to develop their ideas and help them shape society for the better. The Competition acts as a beacon for social innovators across Europe, employing a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators to meet pressing societal challenges. Each year the Competition addresses a different issue facing Europe.
Supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC), this year’s competition is open to entrants from across EU Member States and Horizon Europe associated countries, and the three prize winners will receive €50,000 each to develop their ideas. Semi-finalists and finalists will benefit from personalised coaching, mentoring, and training, and the chance to network with experts and investors.
The theme this year is ‘Skills for Tomorrow – Shaping a Green and Digital Future’. The competition seeks to incentivise, support and reward social innovations that will help people and organisations to adapt and thrive in a changing world.
The 2021 Competition will focus on ideas for how social innovations can help to identify, develop, and strengthen the skills needed to tackle some of the environmental and economic challenges faced by our societies. Digital solutions and network connectivity are key to advancing the Green Deal’s core goal of a carbon-neutral economy. These twin transitions require a smart workforce that can leverage the most adapted and updated skills. Competition entries might include, for example, innovations that help to identify skills gaps and needs, or novel approaches to training and skills development.
These social innovations can be early-stage ideas, but should be replicable, scalable and should consider their own environmental impact. They should also contribute to job creation, growth, and European competitiveness by helping people, businesses and industries identify, develop, and strengthen the skills that will power the European economy’s green and digital future. The deadline for entries to the competition is 12 May 2021 (12pm CEST) and the semi-finalists will be announced on 14 July 2021 (12 pm CEST). [+]