After three rounds of launching challenges and finding solutions to social problems through the Social Challenges Innovation Platform, the economic and social impact of the initiative is now evident.
The selected 81 entrepreneurs and SMEs won €30.000 each in funding to develop their social enterprises over six months by taking part in a mentoring programme and working together with the institution that submitted the challenge.
Even though the project is still running, and it is too early to measure its full impact, some positive results have started to appear. Take for example the case of Rut Turro, founder of the innovative start-up Moving Mood, who has designed a sewing machine for wheelchair users. Her idea could provide jobs for the 5 million wheelchair users in Europe - statistics show that less than one person out of every two in Europe with activity disabilities is employed.
Already established in Spain, she has now signed a collaborative agreement with Poland and her project will soon expand to Slovenia and Mexico. At the Industry Days in Brussels, where some of the Social Challenges participants pitched in front of investors, Italian investors also expressed their interest in Moving Mood.
‘Our project is a new tool, an adaptation for sewing machines and wheelchair users. The users can be designers, entrepreneurs, they can work with industry, and it’s a new opportunity for jobs, for employment that didn’t exist before,’ says Rut.
The case of Adèle Debost, founder of Les Amis d’Huber, a programme that finds companions for elderly or housebound people, also deserves a mention. After the six months mentoring programme she signed a partnership to continue working in Angers and she caught the eye of French investors.
There are also examples of companies that expanded to other territories after participating in the Social Challenges platform..That is case of Mindbook, the first temporary social network for youngsters, a safe place where they can interact online. The solution presented by GeDInfo received funding to be applied in Piacenza, and it was accepted so readily that three additional projects have been born out of the initiative, reaching other Italian cities such as Milan and Parma.
Pampilhosa boosts entrepreneurship in the rural Portugal
A special mention should be given to the case of Pampilhosa de Sierra, a rural area where the City Council is trying to fight against depopulation and aging issues. To breathe life into the community, RuralVive proposed to boost entrepreneurship and rural innovation. No doubt they are moving in the right way to achieve their goals.
The grant was used to fund training for entrepreneurs in innovation, rural entrepreneurship, business, financial and marketing plans.
As a result six projects emerged, one focused on plastic recycling, another a creative residence, a podiatry for diabetic feet, a shoe store with an integrated shoemaker service, agriculture and an itinerant barber shop. These projects will create 9 jobs for the region.
All six projects are now searching for funding, and the Municipality of Pampilhosa da Serra has signed a contract with RuralVive to continue working with the entrepreneurs for the next three years.
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