Who were the best social entrepreneurs in Europe?

EIB Institute’s Social Innovation Tournament ventured to find out again.

’15 finalists from eight countries have been selected for the 2022 Social Innovation Tournament, the flagship initiative of the Institute’s Social Programme recognising and supporting Europe’s best social entrepreneurs.

From innovative solutions to recycle photovoltaic waste or prevent plastic from reaching the ocean, the finalists aim to generate social, ethical or environmental impact. They are from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, and were selected from an outstanding group of 200 candidates in 27 countries.'[i]

Check out the best social entrepreneurs in Europe, this year’s finalists:

3Bee (Italy), a company and agri-tech startup that improves bee life and biodiversity through Internet of Things (IoT) technology and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. 3Bee’s unique technologies allow beekeepers to constantly and comprehensively monitor their hives to optimise production, save time and treat their bees by preventing problems and diseases. Through a bee credit exchange platform, 3Bee enhances the work of local beekeepers and improves pollination of the ecosystem.

AlgaEnergy (Spain) is a Madrid-based biotech company specialised in the field of microalgae. It commercialises microalgae-based agrobiological inputs that efficiently combat the effects of climate change while sustainably increasing crop yields and improving their quality, reducing chemical inputs, maximising farmers’ competitiveness and regenerating soil health.

Beetle ForTech (Austria) has developed a global timber tracking network to secure provenance of resources. Through its holistic timber tracing and forest monitoring system, the company aims at giving each single harvested tree an identity, digitalise the entire timber value chain and thus make transparency a matter of course.

Eufonia (Germany) is an interdisciplinary platform that explores the relationship between art, science and culture through the medium of sound. Eufonia’s Sub_Bar brings together hearing, hearing-impaired and deaf artists to create original works using only sub-frequencies. Their compositions are played through powerful subwoofer systems, transforming venues into musical pressure rooms for an unprecedented listening experience that activates the whole body. These performances and installations induce a different kind of focus, and the haptic stimulation provided by the music leads to a distinct sense of relaxation and alignment of body and mind.

Hale (Italy) is a mobile app providing personalised digital therapy to patients with chronic pelvic pain, a condition from which one in four women suffer. The app is designed to be a “care everywhere” tool, which creates monthly personalised plans using artificial intelligence to help people better manage pain interference. These are based on an online assessment tracking symptoms, goals and routines. Hale’s products are patient-led, meaning they are designed for and with a community, which can contribute to and validate them directly.

ImagiLabs (Sweden) was founded in 2018 and offers several educational products such as apps and hardware to teach young girls and non-binary kids coding. The company’s goal is to diversify the creators of technology as women still make up less than 25% of the tech workforce in Europe. ImagiLabs has built the world’s only mobile-first community for pre-teen girls interested in tech, making coding truly fun and accessible for this hard-to-reach demographic.

Junker app (Italy) was invented by the Italian company Giunko srl and helps its users sort waste properly. The Junker app was launched to solve a major issue in Italy, where the rules for sorting waste can vary from town to town. It provides a quick and simple way to find information on how to separate waste. The user scans the product’s barcode and gets information about the packaging components, the materials they are made of, and the correct waste bins in which they must be disposed. To date, 1 200 municipalities in Italy have joined Junker, along with 20 municipalities in Switzerland.

Lignovations (Austria) is the first company in the world able to produce fully natural Colloidal Lignin Particles for high-value applications at scale. Lignin is a component of plant biomass and protects the plant from harmful influences such as UV radiation, oxidative stress and microbial attacks. Using a patented process, Lignovations transforms raw lignin into a high-tech ingredient, making these protective functions useable in everyday products such as cosmetics, coatings and packaging. Lignovations’ biomaterial can replace the harmful chemicals found in many consumer products, reducing risks to human health and the environment.

Mycotex (Netherlands) has developed the only 3D manufacturing process that can produce seamless and customised products from compostable mushroom roots and other biomaterials. The method therefore resolves a number of major issues in the fashion, interior and automotive industry. It reduces cost, waste and the labour intensity of cut-and-sew operations, replaces plastics and leathers with compostable materials and improves the comfort and fit of fashion products.

Newcy (France) is a start-up company that offers a turnkey service for reusable cups. Based on the principle of the circular economy, Newcy enables companies to have a better social and environmental impact. After use, the cups are collected and washed to be reused. Companies are thereby supported to follow a zero- waste logic, while at the same time creating local jobs for people with disabilities.

Pillio (Germany) is a Berlin-based startup that has developed a patient-centric app that provides patients suffering from chronic conditions with a simple, frictionless system for managing their care. Pillio delivers prescription medication packs to patients, along with medication monitoring and access to doctors and pharmacists. In this way, Pillio helps chronically ill patients follow their medical treatment. This can improve health outcomes and thus counteract a constant financial and structural burden on the health system and a fragmented value chain.

Resortecs (Belgium) REcycling, SORting, TEChnologieS — is a Brussels-based startup that aims to make recycling of large quantities of fashion easier. The company drives the circular economy in fashion with globally patented heat-dissolvable sewing threads and thermal disassembly systems that make it possible to recycle up to 90% of the original fabric material. Through targeted innovations in the way clothes are assembled and disassembled, Resortecs solutions empower fashion and workwear brands to rise to today’s environmental challenges at the pace and scale the earth needs.

ROSI (France), founded in 2017, provides innovative recycling solutions to recover high-purity raw materials from photovoltaic waste. ROSI’s vision is to create a true circular economy for the photovoltaic industry and other key industries. The company’s process allows the recovery of high-purity silicon and other metals that are lost during the production of photovoltaic cells and at the end of the life of solar modules. The recovered materials can be reintegrated into several key European industries.

SEADS (Italy) is the acronym for Sea Defence Solutions, a startup company that invented Blue Barriers to fight plastic pollution in our Oceans. Blue Barriers are a simple yet effective patented technology to stop plastic before it gets to oceans and to transform it into a resource. They can resist normal flooding conditions to be able to operate in the wet season when the majority of plastic is transported by rivers, stopping it under the surface of the water at a depth of up to 80-90 cm. Blue Barriers are equipped with a security system that enables them to be safely opened in exceptional flooding conditions. They also have no impact on riverine wildlife or navigation.

WaveOut (Austria) is an app produced by the Vienna-based company Dreamwaves that uses spatial audio and augmented reality to guide people anywhere, simply by following 3D sounds. It is the only app where there is no need to look at the screen or interpret instructions. By using the right combination of spatial audio, augmented reality and inclusive design, the app makes navigation easy for everyone. In this way, WaveOut benefits blind or visually impaired people, cyclists or older people feeling unsafe or lacking confidence when moving around.’[ii]


Learn more at Social Innovation Academy 

Social Innovation Academy is the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.

Why Social Innovation Academy? Social innovation has increasingly come to be perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice.

The Social Innovation Academy is aiming to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.



Graphics: https://sit2022.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Booklet_SIT_2022_Pitching_Competition.pdf 

[i] https://institute.eib.org/2022/05/sit-2022-meet-europes-15-best-social-entrepreneurs/

[ii] https://sit2022.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Booklet_SIT_2022_Pitching_Competition.pdf 


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