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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Launch of prize to promote the integration of refugees and migrants in Europe

Over the last year more than a million refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe. A further three million are expected to arrive in 2016. The unprecedented number of refugees and migrants travelling to the continent undoubtedly represents one of the biggest challenges facing Europe today, not only in terms of their immediate reception, but also in terms of their longer-term integration in society.

That’s why last Thursday a consortium of partners, led by the European Commission and including Nesta, launched the 2016 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition in Amsterdam to find new and creative approaches to promoting integration.

This year the European Commission is looking for innovations in products, technologies, services and models that can help to build inclusive communities and realise the potential contribution of refugees and migrants. Ideas can relate to any aspect of the reception and integration process, including but not limited to:

  • Education and Skills Development
  • Employment and Entrepreneurship
  • Access to Appropriate Housing and Health Services
  • Safety and Human Rights
  • Community Cohesion and Cultural Diversity

Historically, migration has always been one of the most important driving forces for innovation and growth. The contest is searching for ideas which will enable refugees and migrants to contribute to their host countries and tap into their skills and experience. One such idea is Magdas Hotel in Vienna, who were one of the European Social Innovation Competition’s first ever finalists. We heard from them in Amsterdam last week about how much they’ve grown since entering the 2013 prize. Back then, the concept for Magdas was little more than an idea: to open a hotel which would offer jobs and training to multi-lingual former asylum seekers. Today the boutique hotel employs 20 refugees from 16 countries who, between them, speak a total of 27 languages. We also heard from other social innovators working around the refugee and migrant cause, including Migreat and Mazi Mas

Got an idea?

The competition is now open to entries from individuals, groups and organisations in the European Union, as well as countries participating in the Horizon 2020 programme. The European Commission are particularly keen to encourage applications that are led by, or co-created with, refugees and migrants.

The competition will help the most innovative ideas to turn into real projects which can achieve sustainable impact. Thirty of the most promising applications will be chosen as semi-finalists and will be invited to a social innovation mentoring academy in Berlin in July to progress their ideas. The three best ideas will each be awarded a prize of €50,000 at the Awards Ceremony in Brussels in October.

Applying to the competition is easy. Simply take a look at these seven questions and visit the competition website for full details of how to apply. The deadline for entries is 8 April 2016, 12:00 noon Central European Time.

Help spread the word!

The European Commission is looking for citizen-led responses to the current crisis and are keen to receive applications from a broad range of sources, including engineers, lawyers, academics, students, grassroots NGOs, psychologists and designers.

Please share details about this year’s competition on social media and follow us @EUSocialInnov for all the latest updates.

The European Social Innovation Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all European countries, now in its fourth year. The competition is delivered by a consortium of partners including Nesta, Shipyard, Impact Hub, Kennisland and Matter and Co. 


Jenny Prosser

Jenny Prosser

Jenny Prosser

Programme Manager, European Social Innovation Competition

Jenny worked in the Centre for Challenge Prizes as a Programme Manager on the European Social Innovation Competition.

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