Social Challenges Innovation Platform

Social Challenges Innovation Platform is a far-reaching European action aiming to create an online ecosystem encouraging the interaction between social innovators and SMEs for the co-development and take-up of sustainable and marketable innovations with clear social impact. Social Challenges Innovation Platform (financed by the European Commission under Horizon 2020) granted 81 social entrepreneurs with a total 2,5 million Euros to solve real challenges in different cities around Europe.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

If the promise of social innovation is to be realised across Europe, it is time for it to engage a much wider section of the economic population, and the SME sector is by far the most relevant. After all, SMEs represent 99% of all businesses across the EU and in the past five years they have created some 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU.
Social innovation can in this sense fill the growing gap between what governments and philanthropic organisations provide, and what SMEs can offer. However the interaction among these actors needs to be facilitated. To this end, Social Challenges Innovation Platform provides a challenge award mechanism to:
1) Give voice to communities bearing interests about hard-to-solve, high impact social problems: the so- called “challenge owners”. The social needs that SCHIP considers are not limited to a particular category, but the solutions need to pave the way for lasting social change, whichever the chosen category.
2) Incentivize more SMEs to pioneer innovation within the social sector through ground-breaking entrepreneurial ideas responding to concrete social needs that are formulated as clear challenges. In the SCHIP framework, SMEs need to demonstrate the capability to make a change and to contribute achieving social outcomes, within well-defined trans-European growth objectives.
3) Encourage contamination between social entrepreneurs/social innovators and SMEs by asking them to team up before proposing solutions to social challenges.
4) Help the combination of solution providers and challenge owners to scale up by accessing key actors such as impact investors, multinationals, other stakeholders.
5) Achieve all the above by leveraging two (Impact Hub & EBN) major European SME and social entrepreneurship networks’ ability to support challenge-generation, idea-testing, business-incubation, mentoring, capacity-building and above-all transnational scaling.

In this framework SCHIP provides support and financial incentives to turn innovative ideas into viable solutions to challenges with a social dimension with the aim of putting social innovation at the core of the European innovation ecosystem, as one of the drivers for European competitiveness and growth, to overcome the crisis, create jobs and opportunities, and meet the societal needs of European citizens.

Social Challenges Innovation Platform aims at stimulating and supporting bottom-up approaches to social innovation, encourage and enhance the participation of SMEs in the development of high-impact solutions, incentivize cooperation paths for social innovators and SMEs, increase awareness on social innovation opportunities among a wide spectrum of European Stakeholders (mainly intermediaries such as business support organisations, investors and alike) by enabling multi-level, multi-actor and multi-sectoral connections through an online challenge platform and an impact driven funding scheme.

Social Challenges Innovation Platform collected a total of 83 challenges, from 18 EU countries (involving a total of 47 cities).
The core audience (55%) are cities under 250.000 inhabitants, which are the most common type of city in Europe (83%). According to the Commission’s report: “Cities in Europe - The new OECD-EC definition” , the average city in Europe has between 50.000 and 100.000 inhabitants (51% of European cities).
To facilitate the application process, 10 main topics have been pre-identified for the challenges:
- Aging
- Education
- Employment/Skills
- Energy
- Environment/Food
- Health/Disability
- Youth
- Refugees/Migration
- Smart Cities/Mobility
- Social Inclusion/Gender

Three call for solutions have been opened on-line:
- The application period of the 1st call, with 30 challenges on-line, ended on 21st December 2017. In total 225 applications were received.
- The application period of the 2nd call, with 29 challenges on-line, ended on 15th April 2018. In total 167 applications were received.
- The application period of the 3rd call, with 24 challenges on-line, 15th July 2018. In total 110 applications were received.
Applications have been received from 36 countries. The top 5 countries from which applicants to the call participated have been 1) Italy, 2) Netherlands, 3) Spain, 4) UK and 5) France. Applicants from the top 5 countries together represents the 55.53 % of the total applications.

After a careful revision and analysis of the Solutions, a total of 81 grants that had been distributed across Europe, for an overall funding of 2.430.000 Euros.
Each selected solution has been granted with a total of 30.000 Euros, to co-develop together with the challenge owner and with the support of local mentors, over a period of 6 months, an MVP [Minimum Viable Product] or pilot of the proposed innovation.
The goal is to help Social Entrepreneurs to scale-up internationally and to prove that their solutions can solve real challenges.

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  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen

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