SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Maria C. Horton, Andy Thurai, Zakia Bouachraoui

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The European Commission Announces the Winners of the European Social Innovation Competition 2018

BRUSSELS, November 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

Initiated by the European Commission, the European Social Innovation Competition awards outstanding projects that foster and showcase social innovations and entrepreneurial ideas across Europe. This year's winners were announced today at the Awards Ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels.

Under the theme RE:THINK LOCAL, this year's edition of the competition recognises projects that turn local challenges emerging from the changing economy into opportunities for younger generations. The winning projects are a digital travel platform for deaf people (Ulisse), an incubation programme for young people who want to set up a business (HeritageLab) and a career orientation venture for young people from small urban and rural areas (Career Bus). Each winner will receive a €50.000 prize to further develop and implement their ideas and received a trophy designed and produced by Paris-based artist William Amor with recycled materials.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said: "I congratulate this year's winners. They create opportunities where most only see challenges. The European Commission is committed to empowering youth in shaping a better future for themselves, their communities and Europe at large. The winning projects can deliver on this goal in a sustainable way which will be beneficial for both the economy and society at large." 

Ulisse (Italy) is 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.

HeritageLab (Slovenia) is 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.

Career Bus (Romania) 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.

Every year the jury also looks back to the edition of the previous year, to select the semi-finalist who showed the most impact with their project over the last 12 months. The 2018 Impact Prize of €50.000 was awarded to Mouse4All (Spain), a project that enables people with severe physical disabilities to access an Android tablet or smartphone without touching the screen. Whilst the world is becoming mobile, millions of people are left out of this technology revolution; people with motor disabilities cannot use or have difficulty using a touch screen, the physical interface of most mobile devices. Mouse4all enables people with severe physical disabilities to access Android tablets and smartphones with alternative input devices: switches, adapted mice, trackballs and joysticks. It boosts independence and autonomy by making Android devices and all installed applications accessible.

In a first for the European Social Innovation Competition, the Awards Ceremony featured a Funders' Fair earlier in the day, where all finalists and semi-finalists were given the opportunity to meet and network with investors. The goal of the fair was to introduce participants to the funding landscape, giving them an opportunity to network directly with both various types of funders and social entrepreneurs who have successfully secured different types of investment.

After the Funders Fair, all finalists were invited to pitch their project in front of the audience and to showcase their ideas at stands throughout the afternoon.

Background on the 2018 Edition 

The European Social Innovation Competition 2018 received 729 entries, from which 30 semi-finalists were selected. The projects that made it through to the semi-final stage covered a wide range of sectors and activities, from ideas about reinventing tourism or urban life to innovative initiatives tackling environmental or education challenges.Following tailored business development coaching and participation in the social innovation mentoring academy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania in July this year, the ten finalists were selected and the three winners announced today. All the 2018 semi-finalists will be eligible to apply for the €50.000 Impact Prize next year. This award recognises the project from the previous year's edition that demonstrates the most significant social impact achieved within the past year.

The Jury Panel 

The international jury consisted of: Mikkel Andersen from Danish Social Innovation Club (Denmark), Sabine Biesheuvel from BlueCity (The Netherlands), Tuija Hirvikoski from Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Mirna Karzen from Social Innovation Lab (Croatia), Norbert Kunz from Social Impact (Germany), Vincenzo Linarello from Goel (Italy), Carina Lopes from d-LAB (Spain), Klaus Schuch from Centre for Social Innovation (Austria), Stavros Tsompanidis from Phee (Greece), Taoufik Vallipuram from OuiShare (France) and Magdalena Zawodny-Barabanow from Urbact Network BoostInno (Poland). Their profiles are available here: https://eusic.challenges.org/judging-panel/.

The 2018 Trophy 

This year's European Social Innovation Competition trophies were designed and produced by Paris-based artist William Amor.  

William Amor created Les Créations Messagères to share a valuable story - one of social conscience. Creating beauty and art using abandoned waste materials, his artistic signature reveals itself through the transformation of plastic pollution into beautiful floral arrangements. These delicate, lifelike and tailor-made botanical sculptures communicate valuable messages, used in fashion, design, and artistic installations, creating scenery filled with poetry. This year's design very much captures the ethos of the competition's 2018 theme of empowering young people to participate fully in a changing economy, representing the growth and sustainability being rooted in local communities by the projects.

More information about EUSIC 

The European Social Innovation Competition is an initiative of the European Commission that awards three €50.000 prizes per year to the most innovative ideas developed to address societal issues in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries. This year's theme RE:THINK LOCAL was looking for ideas to empower young people to seize and create opportunities in their local area.

The Competition takes place every year - each time with a different theme. It is held in memory of the Portuguese innovator Diogo Vasconcelos. Individuals, organisations and companies from all EU Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries can participate. It promotes social innovation and provides a great opportunity for people to prototype, develop, and launch their ideas and projects.

The Competition is organised by the European Commission with support from Nesta, Kennisland, the European Network of Living Labs, Ashoka and Scholz & Friends.

For information on earlier editions and winning projects, visit http://eusic.challenges.org .

Follow the Competition on Twitter: @EUSocialInnov #diogochallenge

Subscribe to the Competition newsletter here: http://eusic.challenges.org/newsletter/

Questions about the Competition can be sent to [email protected]

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