The EU awards €50,000 to 3 social innovation pioneers

The EU has announced the three winners of the European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC), which seeks pioneering solutions to societal challenges.

The 2022 challenge, called The Future of Housing, is designed to attract participants who can drive affordability, sustainability and reinvention of European neighborhoods.

“Social innovation is crucial to increase the resilience and support the transformation of our economies, putting people first,” said Hubert Gambs, Commission Deputy Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

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“With this competition, which is celebrating its tenth edition this year, we are supporting social innovations that add social, ecological and economic value at the same time. The three winners of the 2022 edition are social innovators who make a big contribution to the future of our lives through their innovative projects,” added Gambs.

The three winners, who will receive €50,000 in prize money, are as follows:

ReLearn (Italy)

The Turin-based startup has developed smart sensors that can be installed on existing containers. The sensors use AI to monitor daily waste production and sorting into designated bins. They then provide reports and suggest best waste management practices through a gamification approach that facilitates community engagement.

In this way, ReLearn can help companies and communities to reduce their environmental impact. The company says its product can achieve a 60% increase in recycling rates. So far it is active in three countries and eight different cities.

Civic Roof (Spain)

Sostre Cívic implements an alternative housing model to address the issues of accessibility and affordability of private property. It encourages cooperative housing, where collective ownership discourages speculation because it makes it impossible for individuals to make a profit by selling or renting a property.

Members of the collective who are also owners can live in the houses either for a very long time or indefinitely. You have to make an initial contribution and pay monthly installments that result from the acquisition, maintenance and operating costs of the housing project – but not from the development of the real estate market.

Sostre Cívic, originally started as an association, is the first housing cooperative in Catalonia and has so far 17 projects and 86 apartments in use.

Efficient Energy Technology (Austria)

To help residents harness solar energy without having to install solar panels, Efficient Energy Technology has developed a small solar power station designed to be installed on balconies.

The so-called SolMate can be plugged into a socket and supply the home with renewable energy. Thanks to its proprietary metering technology, SolMate delivers power when it’s needed and stores the rest. This allows it to act as a backup power generator even during power outages. The product comes together with an app and, according to the startup, can cover around 60% of a home’s electricity needs while saving around 16,000 kg of CO2.

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