The European Social Innovation Competition

Supported by the European Innovation Council, the Competition employs a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping our society.

Launched in 2013 in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition features three Challenge Prizes and one Impact Prize worth €50,000 each for the best socially innovative projects designed to change the world for the better.

Each year the Competition addresses a different issue facing Europe called ‘a challenge’.

The 2021 challenge: Skills for tomorrow – Shaping a green and digital future

The European economy is changing. The coming years will see a shift towards a green and digital future. This twin transition presents individuals, businesses and industries with exciting opportunities. Understanding the skills that will be needed and how best to develop them will be key to unlocking these opportunities for individuals and organisations alike.

This Competition aims to incentivise, support and reward social innovations that will help people and organisations to identify, develop and strengthen the skills they will need to adapt and thrive in a changing world. The Competition is looking for early stage ideas that tackle these needs in a range of different ways. From innovative solutions that identify skills needs and gaps to skills development approaches, including but not limited to training.

The 2021 edition of the Competition, ‘Skills for tomorrow’ is looking for scalable social innovations that will 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 Competition is open to early stage ideas that tackle challenges relating to the transition to either, or both, futures including but not limited to identifying and mapping skills gaps as well as approaches to development and training that will support people to reskill or upskill.

All solutions must work towards sustainability, taking into consideration their own environmental impact.

Funding opportunities

Applications to the 2021 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition: Challenge Prize are now open.

The deadline for submissions is 12:00 (CEST) on 12 May 2021.

All applications must be submitted directly to the Competition’s website. For more information on the Competition and how to enter, please see here:

Please read the Rules of Contest before applying (available on the website listed above)

More information about the European Social Innovation Competition: 2021 Impact Prize will be published soon.

Who can apply?

Applicants of the European Social Innovation Competition: Challenge Prize are invited to submit their proposals independently of its degree of maturity, including concept or early stage ideas, as well as those that have begun the prototyping stage.

Eligibility criteria

  • The applicant must be a legal entity (including single persons or groups of legal entities except public administrations) located in one of the EU Member States or Horizon Europe Associated Countries.
  • Ideas and proposals from all sources, sectors and all types of organizations including for-profit, non-for-profit, or private companies are welcome.

Award criteria

For this yearly competition, 3 prizes will be awarded after closure of the contest to the applicants who, in the opinion of the jury, best address the following cumulative criteria:

  • Degree of Innovation – the degree to which any new product, service or model addresses unmet needs more effectively. The idea must be new and innovative within its given socio-economic and geographical context
  • Impact – the potential of the proposal to tackle the competition challenge. The applicant must demonstrate how the proposed solution will contribute to solving the challenge
  • Sustainability – the financial and environmental sustainability of the proposal
  • Scalability and replicability – the idea’s potential to scale and be replicated, be it at regional, national, European or global level.

For more information, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

A PDF of the application questions can be found here.

Previous editions

For downloadable resources – press-releases, full challenge statement, key graphics and updates please visit the website here.

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