Three €50,000 prizes for place-based solutions that create opportunities for young people

The 2018 European Social Innovation Competition, RE:THINK LOCAL, launched today at Station F in Paris. This year’s edition of the competition will award €150,000 to ideas that take a place-based approach to developing solutions that support young people to participate in the economy.

What’s the challenge?

Youth unemployment is a persistent problem in the European Union. It currently stands at double the unemployment rate of the adult population. Increasing numbers of young people are also starting their working lives in short-term or casual jobs, often in the gig economy.

Long-term unemployment or underemployment is damaging for the future employability of young people and also creates knock-on negative impacts for society. Fresh thinking is required, which is why this year’s edition of the competition is looking for solutions that take a place-based approach.

Different places have different histories of industrial change, migration, regeneration and ‘brain drain’, which affect young people and the whole community. Each place has its own challenges and assets arising from its unique story. We’re calling on Europeans to think about this story, and to ask themselves what’s available in their local community and what’s presenting a challenge. How could this be used to design solutions that ensure young people can fully participate in the economy and society?

What is the competition looking for?

The competition is looking for solutions that use local characteristics to create opportunities for young people to develop skills for the world of work, to begin long-term pathways towards stable employment, to start their own entrepreneurial initiatives and to improve the quality of life and financial security of young people in irregular work.

We’re particularly interested in how new technologies and new ways of working arising from the fourth industrial revolution could be used to do this. Ideas that are led by young people are also encouraged.

Why enter the competition?

All you need to enter the competition is an idea and the drive to take it further. The entry form is only seven questions and is designed to help us pick out the most innovative ideas. The competition will support selected entrants to develop their concepts and will provide €50,000 funding each to the three most promising projects to make their ideas a reality.

After the application deadline on 27 April 2018, 30 semi-finalists will be selected to receive business development support and attend a three-day mentoring academy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. With the support of an individual mentor, each semi-finalist will develop a detailed business plan to outline how they will test and implement their solution. Ten finalists will then be selected to pitch their idea at the awards ceremony in Brussels in November 2018, where the three prizes will be awarded.

We want to hear from social innovators, entrepreneurs, students, designers, tech enthusiasts, educators, doers and makers, movers and shakers, and people who want to change the world: what potential do you see in your place to create opportunities for young people? Apply now.


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

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Pippa Smith

Pippa Smith

Pippa Smith

Assistant Programme Manager

Pippa was an Assistant Programme Manager in the Challenge Prize Centre, working on European prizes including the European Social Innovation Competition and the Smart Ageing Prize.

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