The European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC), run by the EU’s Directorate-General for Entrepreneurship & SMEs, is a top competition for innovators wanting to develop solutions to make a positive impact on society.
The competition was launched in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos. It is supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and, each year, the competition addresses a different issue facing Europe.
The 2021 edition of the EUSIC was 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.”
Called ‘Skills for tomorrow’, the ninth edition was open to early-stage ideas that tackle challenges relating to the transition to either or both futures. From 565 applications, 30 semi-finalists and 10 finalists were eventually selected.
On December 8, the three winners of the 2021 European Social Innovation Competition were announced. The winners receive a prize of €50,000 each.
Here’s a look at the winners of this year’s competition:
Founder(s): Ulrich Scharf, Karim Bin-Humam, Ragnar Martens, David Yenicelik
Founded in: 2018
Country, state: Netherlands, Amsterdam
SkillLab started out with a focus on the integration of refugees into European labour markets and evolved to assist all job seekers that would benefit from career support. The company’s solution enables employment services and training providers to deliver skill-based career orientation remotely and at scale. Its mobile solution allows people to identify their skill sets and connects them to education and employment opportunities.
Earlier this year in January, SkillLab raised €1.5M in its Seed round of funding from Dutch impact venture fund Rubio Impact Ventures.
Founder(s): Yoon-Joo Jee, Laure Frech Brouard
Founded in: 2019
Country, state: Austria
Snowball Effect aims to help impact-driven people to start or replicate proven solutions that solve the social and environmental challenges at scale, by learning from experienced social entrepreneurs. The company says, “Proven solutions already exist: there is no time to waste reinventing the wheel!”
Founded in: –
Country, state: Finland
Aimed at young people, Zekki encourages reflection on a person’s own well-being and directs them to low-threshold services. It is intended for young people aged 15-25 and as a tool for professionals working with young people. By answering 10 questions, the online tool can help a young person get a summary of their own lives and future.
The check is based on 3X10D ® Life Meter, research and expertise. Zekin has been developed jointly by Diakonia University of Applied Sciences, Deaconess Institute Vamos, Ehyt, HelsinkiMission, Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, Marttaliitto, Mieli, Youth Housing Association, Friends of the Youth, Save the Children, Guarantee Foundation, Population Association and Yeesi with the support of STEA.
The Impact Prize
In addition, an Impact Prize is awarded to one of the participants who reached the semi-finals in the previous year’s competition, based on results achieved over the past twelve months.
This year’s winner is Utrecht, Netherlands-based startup MycoTEX, founded by Aniela Hoitink. The startup offers an all-in-one solution for brands to create custom-fit products out of sustainable, vegan textiles made from mycelium (mushroom roots). As per the company’s claims, this manufacturing method solves several major issues in the fashion, interior, and automotive industries.
The 10 finalists of this year’s European Social Innovation Competition are:
- Circuteria – Germany
- Eco-Friendly digital manufacturing marketplace – Romania
- Edumus – Estonia
- Forward43 – Netherlands
- Happaning – United Kingdom
- Shaping Horizons – United Kingdom
- SkillLab – Netherlands
- Snowball Effect – Austria
- Summitto – Netherlands
- Zekki – What’s up? – Finland
The finalists will receive an additional package of support from experienced social innovators to help them develop their ideas further, while also receiving additional media coverage and support in developing their pitch ahead of the Awards Event.