European Social Innovation Competition 2021

Looking for scalable social innovations that will contribute to job creation, growth and competitiveness in Europe

What is the European Social Innovation Competition 2021?

The 2021 edition of the Competition, ‘Skills for tomorrow’ is looking for scalable social innovations that will contribute to job creation, growth and European competitiveness by helping people, businesses and industries identify, develop and strengthen the skills that will power the European economy’s green and digital future. The Competition is open to early stage ideas that tackle challenges relating to the transition to either, or both, futures including but not limited to identifying and mapping skills gaps as well as approaches to development and training that will support people to reskill or upskill. All solutions must work towards sustainability, taking into consideration their own environmental impact.

Why are we doing this?

The European economy is changing. The coming years will see a shift towards a green and digital future. These twin transitions present individuals, businesses and industries with exciting opportunities. Understanding the skills that will be needed and how best to develop them will be key to unlocking these opportunities for individuals and organisations alike.

This Competition aims to incentivise, support and reward social innovations that will help people and organisations to identify, develop and strengthen the skills they will need to adapt and thrive in a changing world. The Competition is looking for early stage ideas that tackle these needs in a range of different ways. From innovative solutions that identify skills needs and gaps to skills development approaches, including but not limited to training.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for scalable social innovations that will contribute to job creation, growth and competitiveness by helping people and industries identify, develop and strengthen the skills that will power the European economy’s green and digital future.

Competition Timeline


(April / May 2021)

Once the entry deadline has passed (12th May, 12pm CEST), all eligible entries will undergo an initial assessment process. Based on the combined scores and commentary provided by external assessors, entries are collated to identify the top 60 shortlisted entries for the Judges’ more in-depth review.

The 60 shortlisted entries are then shared with the Jury Panel, who will review and score all shortlisted entries and collectively decide which entries best meet the judging criteria, and make a recommendation to the European Commission on which
30 entries will go forward as Semi-Finalists.


(July-Sept 2021)

Our Semi-Finalists receive a comprehensive package of support from experienced social innovators to further the development of their ideas. This includes our Social Innovation Academy, a multi-day training event that connects our Semi-Finalists to a wider community of European social innovators.


(October – November 2021)

The semi-finalists will submit a “Detailed Development Plan” to showcase the development of their ideas. Based on this, the Jury will select 10 finalists and subsequently three winners will be selected. 

At the Awards Ceremony all our Finalists will present their project ideas to a wide audience, before the
three (equal) winners are publicly announced, each receiving EUR 50,000.

2022 Impact Prize Phase

(To take place in 2022)

In 2022 the Competition will reopen for submission for the 2022 Impact Prize. The goal of the Impact Prize Phase is for our participants to make relevant connections, implement an impact monitoring framework, and create measurable impact.

Our support is
designed in order to encourage our innovators to invest in positive social impact and a strong impact measurement framework, as they venture from idea to fully implemented project/business.

Note that the 2022 Impact Prize will be governed by the EIC / Horizon Europe 2022 Work Programme which is still to be defined / approved. 

Meet the team

Charlotte Macken

Prize Design Manager

Caecilie Hougaard Pedersen

Assistant Programme Manager

Liliana Cunha

Programme Coordinator

Previous editions of the Competition

European Social Innovation Competition 2020

European Social Innovation Competition 2019

European Social Innovation Competition 2018

European Social Innovation Competition 2017

The European Social Innovation Competition is run by the European Commission, with the support from the EIC across all EU Member States and Horizon Europe associated countries. The Competition delivery is supported of a consortium of organisations from across Europe. The consortium is led by Nesta Challenges and includes Euclid Network, GOPA Com. and Ashoka Spain.