Three winners with ideas for ‘New Ways to Grow’ in Europe share €150,000 prize

The three winners of the 2015 European Social Innovation Competition have been announced via live video. Launched in memory of social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos, the competition this year attracted over 1,400 applications from 40 different countries which all sought to promote sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe.

In September 2015, 30 semi-finalists were shortlisted and invited to attend a social innovation academy in Vienna, where they received support and mentoring to develop their ideas. The quality of entries was extremely high, with semi-finalists using a range of innovative models to tackle some of Europe’s most pressing social problems, from ageing, to disability and the environment.

Following the social innovation academy, the semi-finalists were asked to submit a detailed business plan, which was assessed by an expert judging panel, to decide on the ten finalists. The winners were chosen based on their ability to stimulate growth in their local communities and beyond, as well as their potential to achieve social impact.

The three winners, who will each receive €50,000, are:

Apiform – which makes beekeeping possible for people in wheelchairs, senior citizens, and people with back pain or arthritis. By developing a beehive accessible from behind and from a lower level, Apiform allows more people to take part in beekeeping opportunities. Based in Bosnia, they aim to replicate the model across countries to foster entrepreneurship and organic living, while helping to restore the bee population in Europe.

The Freebird Club - which is a peer-to-peer social travel and homestay platform specifically designed for the over 50s. Established in Ireland, the idea applies ‘collaborative economy’ principles to address practical issues such as loneliness and financial sustainability for older people. The Freebird Club offers a new world of social travelling for older adults, with a membership-based model.

Wheeliz – which addresses accessibility and inclusion within the transport industry through a car-sharing platform. Public transport in many cities is not accessible for wheelchair users, and the use of specialised taxi services is not affordable. Wheeliz aims to pool the estimated 100,000 adapted cars owned in France, to create a shared fleet of automobiles available for rent by wheelchair users, with ambitions to expand across Europe.

The remaining seven finalists will all receive additional mentoring to further develop their ideas. What’s more, all 30 semi-finalists will have the chance to compete for an additional impact prize of €50,000 which will be awarded in 2016 to the project which has demonstrated the best results.

Following the announcement of this year’s winners, we will be publicising details of next year’s competition in early spring 2016. To keep up to date with the latest updates on the competition, follow us on Twitter @EUSocialInnov.


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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