EIB Institute Social Innovation Tournament – Luxembourg 2012: Social Innovation: Greece, Italy and Hungary lead the way

EIB Social InnovationMarking the first anniversary the EIB Institute launched the first Social Innovation Tournament, aiming to promote the generation of innovative ideas and identify / reward opportunities promising substantial societal benefits or demonstrating best practices with tangible, scalable outcomes. Proposals needed to look at either innovative ideas to be implemented, or already implemented innovative solutions with tangible outcomes and the possibility to scale.

Sixteen finalists presented their proposals in Luxembourg on 29.11.2012.  The jury, composed of academics and businessmen, nominated four winners – 2x1st prizes of €15,000 and 2x2nd prizes of €5,000, one for each of the two main lines of proposals.  Additionally two projects were voted by the audience at the event receiving a prize of €5,000 each.

The geographical spread from the finalists and winners confirms that the ‘periphery’ of Europe is trumping the “old Europe” when it comes to social innovation initiatives. Some of the best proposals in fact came from the ‘PIIGS’ countries, where the crisis brings the opportunity to reinvent and challenge the current system. Greece and Italy represented 6 of the 16 finalists, followed by Hungary, Portugal and Sweden with 2 selected ideas per country. Bulgaria, Slovenia, Finland and the UK take home one nomination each. The ideas span from tech products to web platforms, community spaces and innovative services, touching themes such us learning and skills development, cultural integration, health, unemployment, ageing, community and democracy, tourism and sustainability.

The final event was a demanding experience with 16 project presented in a day. However, each pitch was as informative as innovative and inspiring. The tournament’s organisers from the EIB institute publicly admitted “we have learnt more in a day than during the past twelve months”. Participants spoke with passion, using innovative presentations to outline their ideas, sustainable business proposals and action plans, suggesting ways to measure their social impact. ‘Opportunity’ was the key word repeated in each single presentation together with the sense of urgency and inevitability: something is already changing.

The high quality of the projects made it very difficult for the jury to choose and deliberate, so much as giving an unforeseen special mention to one project and personally explaining to some teams the reason for exclusion.

And the winners are:

First prize €15.000

Hand in Scan: the visible Improvement – Tamás Haidegger (Hungary)

Innovative hand hygiene system based on digital imaging technology

Piano C – Riccarda Zezza (Italy)

Coworking space with cobaby facilities and peer-led community activities

Second prize €5.000

Symbiosys: an innovative approach to Alzheimer’s support – Kiki Zaza, Leontios Hadjileontiadis (Greece) 

Interactive alzheimer’s support system through state-of-the-art technology

Webicina – Bertalan Mesko (Hungary)

Curation through crowdsourcing and digital literacy in medical education through gamification

Audience prize €5.000

Symbiosys: an innovative approach to Alzheimer’s support – Kiki Zaza, Leontios Hadjileontiadis (Greece) 

Interactive alzheimer’s support system through state-of-the-art technology

Poitea 2.0: democracy reborn – Stephania Xydia, Alexandros Noussias (Greece)

Social platform (physical and online) aimed at reinventing democracy to serve our society

Special mention

Mobilearn – Ernest Radal, Claes Persson (Sweden)

Mobile service for faster integration and establishment in Swedish society

My personal special mention would instead go to Portugal, the country where I currently live, and the two projects that were very close to a spot onto the podium: on the one side João Brites and Joana Costa (the youngest ones in the room, with just 22 years of age) who presented an existing project called ‘Projecto Transformers’,a mentoring programme to tackle youth inactivity through performance and artistic expression; on the other side a new idea, called ‘PlayUp, toys to grow up’ started by Vincenzo Di Maria, Joana Regojo, Matteo Tangi and Rita Duarte, which is a project with the aim to co-design and develop toys and activities to encourage imaginative and creative play for children with less access to quality play opportunities.

Nicholas Hazard, panel moderator: “Key evaluation criteria for the 1st round selection included the relative significance of the problem targeted, the sustainability of the innovation proposed and the estimated social impact of the proposed solution. 2nd round assessment took account of the likelihood for implementation based on the scope of the proposal’s social vision and its overall cost effectiveness as well as the team’s commitment, strategy and implementation capacity.”

Riccarda Zezza, winner: “The experience was tough and stimulating, winning was unexpected and made me particularly happy because it means that living a happier life, with a different way of working and more inclusive towards diversity is high in the European agenda”.

Maria Luisa Ferreira, Economic Advisor, EIB Institute: Europe is facing may challenges — unemployment levels are reaching unseen levels, some groups have been particularly hit by the crisis. With this initiative the EIB Institute wants to support the “ best innovators in Europe” to take the future in their hands and come up with new ideas that can have a substantial impact in fighting  against social exclusion.

The EIB Institute has been founded to promote the European Union objectives by supporting European initiatives for the common good. If you want to know more about the Social Innovation tournament please visit the EIB Institute website at http://institute.eib.org/programmes/social/social-innovation/

~Vincenzo Di Maria, Common Ground and Naples 2.0 winner

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