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Three ideas for the integration of refugees and migrants in Europe win €50,000

Three winners of the 2016 European Social Innovation Competition 'Integrated Futures' have been announced at the awards ceremony in Brussels. CUCULA, Project Virtuous Triangle and The Machine to be Another were selected from over 1,000 applicants from 36 countries and will each receive a €50,000 prize.

For the first time, the competition awarded an Impact Prize of €50,000 to the semi-finalist from the 2015 edition who has achieved the greatest results in the past year. The winner of this was Love Your Waste, a French social enterprise fighting food waste. Love Your Waste works with canteens to minimise food waste and convert biowaste to energy through anaerobic digestion.

At the ceremony the 10 finalists of this year’s competition pitched their ideas addressing the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Europe. The audience also heard from newcomers in Belgium and Germany sharing their experiences of arrival and integration and from the European Commission on its priorities for integration and migrant entrepreneurship.

The three winners

CUCULA, from Germany, is a practical workshop and an educational program created for and together with refugees and migrants in Berlin. It designs, manufactures, produces and sells products based on the concept of the Italian designer Enzo Mari, providing technical qualifications with focus on furniture production. It also runs an education program that includes German language classes, legal advice and additional support with CV writing, job applications, and daily life in Germany.

Turkish winner Project Virtuous Triangle matches primary school children from Syria with young Turkish students, alongside a university age ‘coach student’ for tutoring, mentoring and language sharing. The project helps combat segregation in Turkey and means refugee children are more likely to be able to learn Turkish, attend school, and eventually get a job or open up other future opportunities. The project aims to increase its partnerships including private enterprises, government, schools, and other social innovators to promote community cohesion and solidarity from a young age.

The Machine to be Another is a cultural diversity and virtual reality experience sharing project from Spain designed to recreate, replicate, and share experiences so that people can see themselves in the body and experience of a refugee. It uses a pre-recorded audio narrative to create a story, and shares these encounters using 360 virtual reality technology. The project aims to create stations of archived narratives from refugees and migrants all around Europe and the world in schools, libraries, museums and other cultural institutions.

European Social Innovation Competition

Launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition is an annual competition of the European Commission delivered by a consortium of partners including Nesta, Shipyard, Kennisland, Matter and Co and Impact Hub. This year’s topic ‘Integrated Futures’ sought ideas with the potential to address the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Europe, enabling them to fulfil their potential and contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political life of their host countries.

Out of 1,095 entries our judging panel selected 30 semi-finalists to attend a mentoring academy in Berlin in July. Those semi-finalists then submitted a full business plan, from which 10 finalists were selected and invited to the awards ceremony. CUCULA, Project Virtuous Triangle and The Machine to be Another were announced as the winners at the ceremony in Brussels on 27 October 2016.

The next edition of the European Social Innovation Competition will launch in February 2017. Follow us on Twitter for updates from the competition and to find out about the theme when it is announced early next year.


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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