Media Availability: Social Innovation as a Response to the Crisis and Unemployment in the EU

As Europe seeks innovative responses to the economic crisis, a new competition launched by the European Commission is soliciting ideas that seek a real impact on helping more people move towards work or into new types of work.

The potential prizes including expert mentoring and three prizes of €20,000. As President Barroso described the competition, it is “a call to share the ideas and solutions that will shape work, inspire new employment, and capitalise on Europeans’ diverse skills.”

In advance of the deadline for entries on December 21, four experts in social innovation are available to brief media on the current extent of social innovation; it’s potential to address Europe’s social problems; and the role of the current competition in stimulating and promoting responses to unemployment and underemployment across the European Union.

Dr. Florian Pomper is Head of Innovation and Organisational Development with Caritas Vienna with interests in innovative ideas addressing homelessness, unemployment, migration and integration, and care and housing for the elderly, as well as supporting innovation in large non-profit organisations. His Third Sector experience includes roles as Director of Counselling, Family Support and Psychotherapy with Caritas and as Director of the Research Institute for Non-profit Organisations at Vienna University of Economics and Business.

Eva Varga is Enterprise Development Director for the NESsT Venture Fund in Central Europe encompassing Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania. She provides training and business and development support to social enterprises in the portfolio and participates in research and tools development. She represents NESsT externally and maintains the relationship with partners supporting NESsT’s activities all throughout Europe spanning the business and non-profit sector, donors, and public sector institutions. Ms. Varga previously worked in the field of microfinance and as an internal management consultant.

Filippo Addari is Executive Director of the Euclid Network which connects 300 members from 31 countries from across Europe for a more innovative, professional and sustainable European civil society. At Euclid Network he has initiated cutting edge advocacy projects, such as the review of the European funding rules for grants which affect hundreds of thousands of civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world, to realise the potential of a Europe led by engaged citizens. Representing pioneers from the beginning, Filippo today advises the European Commission on social innovation, social enterprise and social investments policies with a particular focus on how to engage citizens and CSOs.

Chris Sigaloff is Chair of Kennisland Netherlands and a board member of the Kafkabrigade. In addition she is a member of international networks SIX (Social Innovation Exchange) and Euclid. She is an expert consultant on running social innovation prize competitions. Chris started her career in Geneva at an international migration and asylum organisation. She spent considerable time at the Nyenrode Business University, The Netherlands. She is an expert in the design and delivery of educational courses to stimulate change and innovation, creating stimulating environments in which participants search for different and better solutions.

Social economy and entrepreneurship in the European Union is estimated to represent:

  • 10% of European gross domestic product;
  • More than 11 million workers, 6% of total employment;
  • 7.5% of the active population in Finland, 5.7% in the United Kingdom, 5.4% in Slovenia, 4.1% in Belgium, 3.3% in Italy or 3.1% in France for instance;
  • 1 out of 4 new enterprises set-up every year in the European Union, and up to 1 out of 3 in countries such as Finland, France and Belgium

For further information on the European Social Innovation Competition, please visit http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/policy/social-innovation/competition