European Social Innovation Competition with €150,000 funding

European Social Innovation Competition with €150,000 funding
Business Circular Economy Sustainability
Reimagine Fashion: Changing behaviours for sustainable fashion - European Social Innovation Competition 2020

The European Commission launched the European Social Innovation Competition 2020 which is in its 8th year and acts as a beacon for social innovators in Europe, supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping society for the better.

Each year the competition addresses a different issue facing Europe, this it is focusing on the theme: Reimagine Fashion: Changing behaviours for sustainable fashion.

EU citizens, on average, buy more than 12kgs of clothing yearly, the production of which contributes 195 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere and uses 46 billion cubic meters of water. Clothing accounts for between 2% and 10% of the environmental impact of overall EU consumption.

At the same time, more than 30% of clothes in Europeans' wardrobes have not been used for at least a year. Once discarded, over half the garments are not recycled, but end up in mixed household waste and are subsequently sent to incinerators or landfill.

"European consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their consumer habits. Building on Europe's position at the forefront of global fashion, this year's social innovation competition is looking for innovations that change the ways we produce, use and wear fashion and encourage more sustainability across the fashion industry," says Slawomir Tokarski, Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, DG GROW

Innovative ideas to make fashion sustainable

This year's competition is looking for ideas that contribute to improving the sustainable production, use and consumption of fashion as well as the end of life stage of fashion products.

The Commission is looking for early-stage projects that will change the ways we produce, buy, use and recycle fashion and encourage a more sustainable change in consumer behaviour.

Solutions presented at the competition should also be scalable at the local, national or European levels.

Ideas should aim to reduce the overall environmental footprint of fashion, improve its societal impact, and help change behaviours in a sustainable way by helping to develop new products, services, processes and innovative business models.

The competition is open to all with innovative and creative ideas on making the fashion industry more sustainable, including social innovators, entrepreneurs, students, designers, businesses and other doers, makers and change creators.

Application process

Thirty semi-finalists will be invited to the European Social Innovation Academy in July, where they will receive mentoring and training to structure their development plans.

The second round of judging will identify ten finalists, then a jury will select three winning ideas in November 2020, each of which will receive an award of €50,000.

Applications are open until Wednesday 4th March 2020 noon CET. For full details on the application process, visit the Social Innovation Competition website.

The European Commission organises the European Social Innovation Competition 2020 with supports from Nesta Challenges, Kennisland, Ashoka Spain, the European Network of Living Labs, and Scholz & Friends.

The competition will complement several measures the Commission has already implemented to address the problem of sustainability in fashion.

  • The circular economy package, adopted in 2018, will for the first time, require Member States to ensure that textiles are collected separately.
  • The new Waste Directive requires Member States to set up such schemes at the latest by 2025.
  • The Packaging Waste Directive introduces targets for the recycling 60% of all packaging by 2025 and 70% by 2030.