On last 20th of May the three winners of the European Social Competition prize were announced in Brussels by Commissioner Michel Barnier.
1,254 project were submitted to the jury within this second edition of the competition, almost twice more than last year, demonstrating that Europe is plenty of new ground-breaking ideas to create new types of work and address social needs.
The three winning ideas were selected within 30 semi-finalist and awarded with 30,000 € each to further develop in the future months.
Among the finalist, an Italian project "From waste to wow!" carried out by a Social Cooperative from Verona named Progetto QUID.
This cooperative made of 9 young people recycle slightly damaged textile which cannot be used for Italian top brands (Calzedonia, Intimissimi, Tezenis and Carrera among the others) into limited collections, and thereby provides jobs to disadvantaged women.
Anna Fiscale, president of the cooperatives, explained what social innovation is for new generation which are now approaching social initiatives:
"Social innovation is putting the company at the service of the people rather than vice versa. Social innovation also means building business around those good things already existing, to improve it. Each of our garments is a metaphor for this way of doing social innovation."
And about "From waste to wow!":
"Along with ecological sustainability and ethics, employment is the measure of values with which we have designed the project. With this project we want to show that beauty is an infallible weapon for innovate all things around us. Our seamstresses, now 15, are, for the most part, women with a history of fragility which have found a ransom social activity thanks to haut couture. It is a bottom up model of social redemption, away from dependency and charity.
The very idea of a limited fashion edition with an affordable price is a tribute to the individuality of persons, according to the motto 'no two alike', which reflects and celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the many existing types of beauty."
Other two completely different ideas were awarded this year:
Urban Farm Lease (Belgium): the project will facilitate and support urban farming in Brussels, with the aim of directly creating 6,000 jobs and an additional 1,500 jobs considering indirect employment.
Voidstarter (Ireland): a project aimed at refurbished by unemployed people and turned into spots for learning and entrepreneurship all the units of social housing in Dublin which are actually empty in Dublin.
As Commissioner Michel Barnier said the real challenge for the projects, not only the awarded ones, is to scale up. Europe need those project to be replicated to inspire even more social innovations across countries and "[...] We need to tap into this potential to bring innovative solutions to the needs of our citizens and create new types of work."