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The winners of the tenth edition of the Social Innovation Tournament’s (SIT) General Category are Magrid with first prize and Inclusive Education with second prize, while Cellugy (ecoFLEXY) and Orange Fiber won first and second place in the Special Category, which is dedicated to projects focusing on sustainable living. Orange Fiber is also the winner of the Audience Choice Award, the company that received the most votes from the audience watching the tournament online. Moreover, Orange Fiber and Vortex Bladeless were selected to attend the INSEAD Social entrepreneurship programme.

The Social Innovation Tournament, the flagship initiative of the EIB Group Institute’s Social Programme, recognises and supports the best European social entrepreneurs. 15 finalists had been selected for the tenth edition of the tournament from an outstanding group of 280 candidates.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the tournament, the EIB Institute increased the prizes for this year’s winners. The General Category and the Special Category winners will be awarded €75 000 and the runners-up €30 000. The winner of the Audience Choice Award will receive €10 000.

EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix said: “I am very proud to have had the honour of attending the tenth edition of the Social Innovation Tournament, a remarkable initiative from the EIB Institute to promote innovative startups. We had the opportunity to follow 15 outstanding pitches from young social entrepreneurs from nine European countries. These innovative projects will contribute to making the society we live in fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable. The EIB is the EU bank. We support cohesion, climate action and innovation. We are more than a financier; we are a supporter of entrepreneurs, ideas and different expertise. Entrepreneurship is key to an innovative Europe. Entrepreneurs never fail. Either they win, or they learn. EIB shares the success and the learning we do together.”

General Category – Winners

First prize: 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.

Second prize: 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.

Special Category – Winners

First prize: 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.

Second prize: 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.

Audience Choice Award - Winners

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.

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.