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30 ideas to empower young people in a changing economy

The European Social Innovation Competition has selected 30 semi-finalists with ideas on turning local challenges into opportunities for young people in the economy.


Young people are the future. They should have the opportunity to fully participate in the economy. How? By acquiring the right skills, having a well-paid, rewarding job, and creating value for themselves and their community. At the same time, our economy is changing. New technologies, ways of working or migration impact places and communities, bringing both new opportunities and challenges.

The 30 selected projects have been chosen from over 700 entries by our judging panel. They come from all corners of Europe and Horizon 2020 associated countries, with 20 different nations represented.

This year, innovators were asked to take a place-based approach. This meant in order to be successful in the competition, innovations were required to take place in a certain location and respond to specific local conditions, challenges and opportunities.

Full profiles of the 30 semi-finalists are available on the competition’s website and are summarised below.

2018 semi-finalists

  • Career Bus – Career orientation on wheels for faraway youths (Romania)
  • Connectech – Teaching local 14-to-18-year-olds with orthopaedic impairments coding knowledge and IT skills (Hungary)
  • Co-working Island – An interdisciplinary approach to local community engagement, tourism and ecology (Croatia)
  • DúlaBio – Harnessing the blue economy for livestock farming methane mitigation (Ireland)
  • Erase all kittens – A web-based platform game, designed bottom-up to inspire girls to code (UK)
  • Es im-perfect – Making use of imperfect fruits and vegetables for those in need (Spain)
  • GoFundEd – A platform for young people to transform their schools into powerful learning environments (Ukraine)
  • HeritageLab – An incubation programme for the creation of new employment and business opportunities in the heritage sector (Slovenia)
  • High tech pre-accelerator for students – A means for students to explore IoT, 3D print, VR etc. (Bulgaria)
  • House of Nature – Sustainable tourist experiences in Transylvania (Romania)
  • imagiCase – Inspiring the next generation of female technologists (Sweden)
  • Konexio – Connecting refugees with citizens in their communities through a collaborative e-learning platform for digital literacy skills (France)
  • LAB by La Bolina – A youth led collective of migrants and local people fostering skills and entrepreneurship (Spain)
  • Makers for Inclusion – Introducing inhabitants of Raval to concepts and skills linked to digital manufacturing (Spain)
  • MTOP goes digital – Smart labour market integration for refugees (Austria)
  • New Nordic Neighbourhood – Involving young people in community planning and transformation (Finland)
  • Online teaching for the youths of marginalised European communities? – A chance to learn about rural and indigenous European communities (UK)
  • OPEN Resources – Urban regeneration through social innovation (Italy)
  • PLUCK – A permaculture learning and upcycling campus for kids (Greece)
  • Recyclage Participatif et Solidaire – Young people in social reintegration assist companies in Auvergne in recycling their waste (France)
  • Revive Greece – Re-skilling vulnerable young people in computer programming (Greece)
  • Rijles is more – Providing underprivileged youth with free driving lessons during which they work as couriers for social food initiatives (The Netherlands)
  • Rural Revitalisation – Youth empowerment and economic development through agriculture (Romania)
  • Scolargeno – Creating student-led solar cooperatives (Germany)
  • Svago – A social platform where young people with specific technical skills (e.g. fishing, weaving) give training for curious people who want to start a new hobby or participate in unique events (Turkey)
  • TalentRadio on Tour – Empowering youth through talent-development and digital communication (Belgium)
  • The WasteLab – Enabling youth to repurpose food and tech waste into goods and services (The Netherlands)
  • U-rban farming STARTer kit for refugees – #U-START is a platform providing young refugees with training on urban farming methods (Greece)
  • Ulisse – Deaf young people provide tourist experiences to deaf tourists (Italy)
  • Youth Smart Village – An innovative youth technology laboratory teaching tech and IT skills to young people in a remote region of Armenia (Armenia)

What’s next for the semi-finalists?

These 30 semi-finalists will attend a social innovation mentoring academy in Cluj in July, where they will receive coaching to progress their ideas. Following the academy, they will submit a detailed development plan of their idea. From these plans, 10 finalists will be selected. Three winners will then be awarded a prize of €50,000 at the awards ceremony in Brussels in October 2017. To follow the progress of the competition and receive the latest updates follow us on Twitter: @EUSocialInnov.

The European Social Innovation Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, is a challenge prize run by the European Commission, now in its sixth year. The competition is open to applicants from EU member states and countries associated to Horizon 2020. The competition is delivered by a consortium of partners including Nesta, Kennisland, Ashoka, ENoLL and Scholz & Friends.

This blog was originally posted on the European Social Innovation Competition’s website.


Gary Fawdrey

Gary Fawdrey

Gary Fawdrey

Assistant Programme Manager - Sustainable Communities, Nesta Challenges

Gary worked on social innovation and tech for good prizes.

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