Last Thursday it was time for me and some EVA colleagues to attend the launch of the fourth edition of The European Social Innovation Competition.
This competition, hosted by The European Commission and the City of Amsterdam, is held in memory of the Portuguese politician Diogo Vasconcelos. He lived to challenge and overcome global societal issues and was a true innovator with a vision for a fairer, more connected and empowered European citizenship.
During this event, people with the same vision as Diogo came together to continue his work towards a better wold and an integrated future. And let me tell you, there were some very interesting and foremost extremely inspiring people there last Thursday.
For us it was truly a privilege to get the chance to be involved in this and to be surrounded by these very empowering and influential people, and it was amazing to see everyone coming together; willing to share ideas, thoughts and even resources, in order to make a difference for the world we live in and the people in it.
To me, the fact that the European Commission, the City of Amsterdam and other big corporations (i.e. ABN AMRO, who had a representative at the event), have acknowledged the importance of unity and accept the help and ideas of individuals and social entrepreneurs, shows that we have come a long way. We cannot solve world problems on our own; we need each other and we need to come together – and that is what this event was for!
The theme for this year’s competition focuses on social innovation and creative solutions for refugees and migrants. During the day of the launch, we therefore got to listen to speakers and panels on this topic as well as success stories from social entrepreneurs who, together with former refugees or migrants, have set up amazing projects. One such project is Magdas Hotel in Vienna; a very touching and inspiring story that I recommend you all to check out (you can find the link to their website below). After the morning program, it was time for some lunch and networking, while the afternoon program consisted of a set of workshops. In order to attend as many workshops as possible and to be able to share the findings with each other, we decided to split up.
The workshops consisted of: Opportunity mapping, Breaking barriers and building partnerships, Principles of Human Centred Design and A clash of cultures: how to embrace socially innovative practices. Very interesting and we all learned a lot! Afterwards, some attendees were welcomed on to the stage to summarize the workshop and their learnings and of course EVA’s own Vice President, Sidney, took on the stage and presented her insights with grace. A very proud moment for EVA!
Overall, it was a great experience and we left feeling inspired, motivated and ready to take on the challenge! It truly was an event in the spirit of EVA’s own philosophy of Challenge, Connect and Inspire. During this day we definitely experienced every single aspect of those three small (but big) words that we all stand for.
“I had a great time at the kick off! I really enjoyed the workshop and I learned a lot from it. Also it was good to see how all these people are willing to put time and energy in making Europe a “better place”, in every single way possible. I am inspired and amazed! I hope to start or support a project like this myself in the near future!”
“The event was an eye-opener. I got to see another perspective on how to run a business while being socially responsible at the same time. To see people my age quite literally trying to change the world through their ideas and helping people was not only inspirational, but completely badass!”
Do you feel inspired and do you want to make a change but wasn’t present at the launch?
No worries, you can still contribute and submit your ideas as an individual or as an organization until April 8th.
- More information on the competition and how to sign up: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/innovation/policy/social/competition/
- Read more about Diogo Vasconcelos and social innovation in Europe: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/who-we-are/in-memory/diogo-vasconcelos.html
- Magdas Hotel: http://www.magdas-hotel.at/home/