• The Social Innovation Tournament, to take place in Lisbon on 7 October, is the flagship initiative of the EIB Group that rewards Europe’s best social entrepreneurs.
  • €75 000 to be awarded to the winners of the General Category and Special Category.

The EIB Institute is delighted to announce the 15 finalists selected for the 10th anniversary of the Social Innovation Tournament (SIT), to be presided EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix and set to take place in Lisbon on 7 October. Every year, the tournament is organised in a different EU capital to reward and sponsor European social entrepreneurs whose primary purpose is to generate a social, ethical or environmental impact.

The 15 frontrunners are from nine European countries: Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. After being selected from an outstanding group of 280 candidates, they participated in a tailor-made training programme to enhance their pitching skills and to help them fine-tune their business plans. The programme fully prepared them for presenting their projects in Lisbon before a jury of social innovation specialists from the academic and business worlds.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the tournament, the EIB Institute increased the prizes for this year’s winners. The winners in the General Category and the Special Category will be awarded €75 000 and the runners-up €30 000. The winner of the Audience Choice Award, to be voted by the audience watching the tournament online, will receive €10 000. This year, the Special Category prize will go to projects focusing on sustainable living. Moreover, two impact ventures will be selected to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme in Fontainebleau, France.

The Social Innovation Tournament is not only about financial rewards. Each year’s finalists automatically become members of the SIT Alumni Network, connecting them and other selected social entrepreneurs with more opportunities and more resources. As such, they benefit from numerous training opportunities and an innovation grants programme. These opportunities include: (i) the Scaling Executive Programme, a full-time executive training course focused on scaling, pitching and engagement with investors, (ii) SITolarships, an innovation grants programme, and (iii) conferences around Europe to network with investors, venture philanthropists and foundations who could back the investment needs of their projects.

Furthermore, to explore synergies with the growing community of social entrepreneurs supported by the Institute through the Social Innovation Tournament, the EIB Institute is supporting IRIS, the first social incubator in the north of Portugal.

Launched in 2012 in Luxembourg, the SIT has rewarded dozens of social entrepreneurs from all over Europe, helping them grow their businesses and change the world with their ideas, energy and enthusiasm.

Stay tuned to find out about this year’s winners and register here to attend the tournament and the award ceremony in person or virtually on 7 October from 10:00 to 15:00 (GMT+1) .

Check out here and below this year’s 15 finalists:

Advitos (Germany), a Munich-based company founded in 2005, offers a technological solution for treating multiple organ failure — a common cause of death in intensive care units. It implements effective liver support therapy from concept to marketing. ADVITOS developed the ADVOS multi-device (ADVanced Organ Support) to provide an integrated 4-in-1 multi-organ support therapy that enables simultaneous support of all three main detoxification organs — liver, lungs and kidneys — and corrects acid-base imbalances in the blood. Pilot trials in critically ill patients have shown that this therapy increases survival in cases of severe organ failure from 20% up to 50%.

Angiodroid (Italy), a medical technology company founded in 2013 in Emilia Romagna, is committed to creating new healthcare solutions. It has developed the first unique automatic injector for peripheral angiography with CO2 that enables the user to control the gas dose and pressure of injection. The system overcomes the issues related to air contamination, poor imaging and safety for the patients thanks to a patented technology that standardises the use of CO2 in the angiographic exam. The unit is portable, with an inbuilt CO2 tank with capacity for more than 500 procedures, and it is ready to inject in 6 seconds.

Beyond leather materials (Denmark), a Copenhagen-based startup launched in 2016 that produces plant-based and eco-friendly alternatives to animal leather. The company is a B2B supplier of a sustainable alternative textile based on apple pulp, a by-product from juice and cider production. The product is fully biodegradable, animal-free and more sustainable than animal-derived or synthetic leather.

Cellugy (ecoFLEXY) (Denmark), founded in 2018 and based in Aarhus, is a biotech startup committed to tackling plastic pollution by replacing single-use plastics with 100% natural bio-cellulose. Through the bioconversion of surplus sugar, the company developed the EcoFLEXY material that meets the performance requirements of the packaging industry while being fully recyclable and biodegradable. With such an innovative material, the company aims to enable the industry to comply with the European 2030 ban on single-use plastics at a competitive price.

The Institute for Inclusive Education (Germany) develops educational offerings delivered by people with disabilities. As qualified educational specialists, they communicate the lives, needs and specific visions of people with disabilities. The Institute qualifies people with disabilities for educational work and thus contributes to creating new jobs. 

IRRIOT (Sweden), a Stockholm-based startup founded in 2017, developed an IoT wireless and self-powered irrigation platform to reduce water wastage in agriculture by 50% and increase crop yields by 30%. The company implements the next generation of commercial irrigation solutions and uses the latest telecommunication technology (LoRa), IoT, high precision sensors and cloud technology to deliver a platform that secures optimal soil conditions while reducing the carbon footprint.

Magrid (Luxembourg), launched at the University of Luxembourg Incubator, is a programme to help teachers and students teach and learn maths. It removes the language barrier from learning maths and provides equal educational opportunities to all learners, helping to close the performance gap between native and non-native speakers. Magrid offers a unique learning environment where students can repeat instructions at their own pace to increase their confidence in maths. By visualising the mathematical concepts and ideas, Magrid makes early mathematical education intuitive and accessible to all children regardless of their language proficiency.

Nuventura (Germany), based in Berlin and launched in 2017, is an R&D company specialising in developing medium-voltage gas-insulated switchgear (GIS). Its patented GIS technology replaces SF6 — the world’s most potent greenhouse gas — with dry air. SF6 is mainly used in the energy industry and its annual emissions are equivalent to the yearly CO2 emissions produced by around 100 million cars. The company facilitates the transition to an SF6-free switchgear industry, which regulators will demand in the European Union, United States and other regions in the coming years. Nuventura therefore contributes to the energy transition with its greenhouse gas-free grid technology.

Orange Fiber (Italy), founded in Catania in 2014, produces patented sustainable fabrics from citrus fruit by-products to develop quality fabrics for the luxury fashion sector. The starting point is the by-products of the citrus processing industry — the disposal of which has high costs both for the citrus juice industry as well as for the environment. Orange Fiber has established a fully traceable and transparent supply chain to transform this by-product into the perfect ingredient for environmentally conscious designers. Orange Fiber’s method is internationally recognised as a best practice for the sustainable fashion industry. The company is involved in several initiatives to push the boundaries of sustainability in the food and textile supply chain.

rePurpose Global (Norway), was launched in 2016 and is the first Plastic Credit Platform. The company’s aim is to promote climate action by removing and recycling as much ocean-bound plastic waste as companies produce while greening their product experiences to reach and retain determined consumers. At around $0.25 per pound of the client’s footprint, rePurpose Global helps companies to fund vetted projects to remove at least as much plastic waste from nature as they create.

The NewsRoom (Portugal) is a Lisbon-based startup whose main mission is to fight the spread of misinformation and hate speech online. It is building Explainable Artificial Intelligence technology that allows it to assess the trustworthiness of online news articles and claims in a transparent way.

UVera (Poland), a Lodz-based company launched in 2019 and accelerated by EIT Health, is developing the next generation of healthy and eco-friendly protective substances against the whole spectrum of ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB, U.V.C.) in sunlight. The company aims to use pure biotechnology to produce safe and effective UV protection, developing a substance that does not harm any ecosystems or pose any risks to human health. 

Vortex Bladeless (Spain), founded in Madrid in 2015, is a cleantech startup that is developing an environmentally friendly and blade-free aerogenerator, a wind-driven electric generator designed for utilising wind power on a commercial scale. It is a new wind energy technology specially designed for onsite generation in residential areas, working on-grid, off-grid, or along with regular solar panels or other generators. The Spanish company aims to reduce the amount of raw materials used for manufacturing, which cuts the production costs and time to produce the equipment. Moreover, Vortex is silent, since it oscillates at a frequency that does not produce audible noise (below 20 Hz), and long-lasting, as there are no moving parts in contact with each other. 

Wasser 3.0 (Germany), founded in Karlsruhe in 2020, is a greentech company that aims to develop solutions for making water free from plastic and pollutants. The goal is to clean coastal zones, harbours and marinas, aquacultures, sea salt extraction farms and seawater containing industrial processes. With Wasser 3.0 PE-X®, the company has developed the first filter-free process solution for the quick, efficient, and cost-effective removal of microplastics and/or micropollutants from different types of water.

Wheelmap (Germany), a Berlin-based company launched in 2010, has developed an online map of wheelchair-accessible places to help wheelchair users and people with mobility impairments plan their day-to-day lives more effectively. By downloading the app or by accessing the company’s website, everyone from all over the world can find and add places and rate them by using a traffic light system. Currently, Wheelmap is available in 32 languages and over 2.3 million cafés, libraries, swimming pools and many other publicly accessible places are recorded.

Background information

About the Social Innovation Tournament

The Social Innovation Tournament recognises and supports the best European social entrepreneurs. It promotes innovative ideas and rewards initiatives that contribute to creating social, ethical or environmental impact. Typically, it covers projects in the areas of education, healthcare, the environment, the circular economy, inclusion, job creation, ageing and many more.

All projects compete for the first and second prizes of €75 000 and €30 000 in the General Category and Special Category, as well as the Audience Choice Award of €10 000 for the project with the most audience votes. In 2021, the Special Category Prizes will go to projects focusing on sustainable living. Two projects will be selected to attend INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship programme in Fontainebleau, France.

The prizes are awarded by a jury of specialists from the academic and business worlds. The Audience Choice is awarded by the audience, based on their votes.

About the EIB Institute

The EIB Institute was set up within the EIB Group (European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund) to promote and support social, cultural and academic initiatives with European stakeholders and the public at large. It is a key pillar of the EIB Group’s community and citizenship engagement.

The EIB Institute supports social innovation and entrepreneurs who target social, ethical or environmental goals or seek to create and sustain social value. The areas typically covered are unemployment, equal opportunities, the marginalisation of disadvantaged groups and access to education and other basic social services.

Press releases announcing the finalists, by country: