Bright ideas to tackle unemployment

Last Friday we launched the second EU Social Innovation Competition in Milan - The Job Challenge, in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos.

Once again, the European Commission is offering three prizes worth €30,000 each to social innovations that have a real impact on helping unemployed people find jobs or creating new opportunities for work - by, for example:

  • Increasing the number of unemployed people who move into work;
  • Increasing the earnings of un- or under-employed people;
  • Increasing the employment of disadvantaged or marginalised groups (eg young people, over 50s, people with disabilities, working mothers);
  • Increasing the number of people becoming self-employed or starting their own businesses.

Last year 605 entries were received from all over Europe. 30 semi-finalists were invited to a Social Innovation Academy in Amsterdam to support the development of their ideas.

10 finalists were selected and eventually three winners were announced by President Barroso on 29 May 2013 in Brussels. You can take a look at last year's semi-finalists, finalists and winners on the competition website.

This year, the competition was officially launched by Carlo Pettinelli, Director at the EU Commission, together with last year's 10 finalists.

The entries will be judged on three main criteria:

  • degree of innovation assessed as the innovativeness of the proposed idea; of the approach and solution to a socio-economic or environmental issue; of the proposed product, service, process, technology implied by this solution; or of the business, implementation, organisation or marketing models underpinning this solution - innovations can be understood as genuinely new ideas as much as new or improved ways to implement, combine, or adapt to a different context or target group existing solutions;
  • potential impact assessed as the potential of the idea to help people move towards work or create new types of work;
  • potential for sustainability and scale assessed as the likelihood that projects can be sustained and have significant, long-lasting and increasing impact and as their capacity to inspire others in Europe - eg to be applied/transferred/adapted to another area of the same country, to another or more EU Member State(s), to another issue or to another population category.

All finalists and semi-finalists will receive strong mentoring support and numerous networking opportunities to support the development of their ideas.

The focus of the competition closely links with the work that Nesta is doing on innovation in jobs and our Making It Work report, published last year.

We're really excited to be part of this project and think it's fantastic that the EU Commission is focusing once again on finding ways to create new opportunities for the 27 million Europeans currently out of work.

The deadline for applications is 11 December 2013 - to find out more and apply, visit the European Commission website.


Marco Zappalorto

Marco is Head of European Development and he is currently developing a coherent European strategy for Nesta to expand the organisation's European reach and core partnerships.  Prior to…