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2017 European Social Innovation Competition Winners

Buildx, a collaborative platform focused on building sustainable homes; Feelif, a multimedia tool that allows visually-impaired people to feel shapes on a touch screen; and SAGA, a peer-to-peer learning platform that gives students the opportunity to learn from industry experts – have been announced as the winners of the 2017 European Social Innovation Competition, ‘˜Equality Rebooted’ , at an awards ceremony in Brussels. Selected from nearly 800 applicants from more than 40 countries, each project will receive a €50,000 prize from the European Commission.

The competition also awarded an Impact Prize of €50,000 to the semi-finalist from the 2016 edition who has achieved the greatest impact in the past year. The Bike Project took home this prize following outstanding results supporting refugee mobility and integration in the UK.

This year’ s competition called for ideas to ensure that everyone in Europe benefits from the opportunities created by technological change. The three winners presented fresh approaches to tackling inequalities in the housing system, adult education and access to technology for the visually impaired.

  • Buildx is a collaborative platform that offers the tools and knowledge to design and build sustainable homes and neighbourhoods. Buildx digitises and opens up the housing supply chain, creating a new infrastructure for investing in, designing, manufacturing, assembling and operating buildings. As a result, sustainable buildings become cheaper and accessible to a broader public, and a bigger market becomes available for companies along the sustainable building supply chain.
  • Feelif is a multimedia tool for blind and visually-impaired people, with which users can feel shapes on a flat touch screen. The project uses an app and a special relief grid to allow users to feel ‘˜bumps’ from shapes and contours on the screen through vibration signals. This opens up endless possibilities to read, learn and create content for blind people and makes access to technology more inclusive.
  • SAGA-The Peer-to-Peer Learning Platform helps learners get a flexible education and learn in-demand skills from industry experts. Blockchain is used to create a digital record of the trainings completed and the results. Learners can also invite members of the community to crowd-invest in their education in exchange for a portion of their future income.
  • The Bike Project refurbishes second hand bikes to donate to refugees and asylum-seekers, tackling the issue of lack of mobility and contributing to users’ independence and securing access to services. The project has donated 1,000 bikes to refugees in the space of a year, saving users an estimated £1,040,000 in travel costs. A proportion of the bikes refurbished are sold through its trading arm, The Bike Shop, to generate funds and ensure long-term sustainability. The Bike Project  was one of the 10 finalists in the 2016 Competition, ‘˜Integrated Futures’ , which looked for solutions to ensure the integration of refugees and migrants.

About the European Social Innovation Competition

The European Social Innovation Competition is an annual competition of the European Commission to find new innovations addressing a different social theme each year. In response to digitisation’ s transformative effect on society and the labour market, this year’ s competition aimed to ensure technology is used to include everyone in Europe in the change it engenders.

Via Nesta