Frequently Asked Questions


About the Social Innovation Tournament

About the Application Procedure

About the Final Event and Prizes

Other FAQ


About the Social Innovation Tournament

What is the Tournament?

The Social Innovation Tournament established by the EIB Institute is the flagship initiative of the Social Programme. The Tournament seeks to promote the generation of innovative ideas and identify/reward opportunities promising substantial societal benefits or demonstrating best practices with tangible, scalable outcomes.

What is the structure of the Tournament?

The Tournament runs in two rounds: proposals submitted by the deadline for submissions (4 March 2019, 23:59 CET) will be screened and up to 15 finalists will proceed to the 2nd round. The finalists will be invited to present their proposals at a Final Event (to be held in Lisbon, Portugal on 8 October 2020) where the winners will be selected and prizes awarded.

Does the Tournament target specific fields?

The Tournament aims at making a positive impact on people’s lives. It covers projects in a wide range of fields, from education and health care to natural or urban environment and from new technologies to new systems and new processes. Improvements in these fields are critical to business success, and social innovation could have a substantial societal impact. A Special Category Prize, introduced in 2013, gives additional emphasis to a specific field each year. In 2019, the Special Category prizes were awarded to projects addressing the topic of sustainable consumption and production (including circular economy).In 2018, the Special Category prizes were awarded to projects addressing the topic of sustainable development (with a special emphasis on circular economy); in 2017, the Special Category prizes were awarded to projects focused on ageing; in 2016, this prize was awarded to projects that addressed the topic of health with a special emphasis on childhood obesity; in 2015, it went to projects that target equal opportunities with a special emphasis on people with disabilities and in 2013 and 2014, it went to projects in urban and natural environment. In 2020, the Special Category 1st and 2nd prizes will be awarded to projects addressing the topic of environment (with special emphasis on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation).

Do proposals have to be global in scale?

No. Proposals can outline a local solution tailored to a certain area since local or small-scale solutions could be replicated and demonstrate high potential impact. The higher the impact the better.

Does the Tournament give the EIB Institute any ownership or IP rights over proposals submitted?

No. Participation in the Tournament will not, in and of itself, give the EIB Group or the EIB Institute any claims on intellectual property rights.


About the Application Procedure

In which language can I submit my proposal?

Only proposals submitted in English or French will be accepted; proposals submitted in other languages will not be considered. Annexes, websites, additional materials, etc also have to be in English or French. Presentations at the Final Event will be in English.

Who can apply?

The Tournament is open to individuals or teams from (or residing in) the European Union Member States, Candidate and Potential Candidate countries, and EFTA countries that submit proposals to be implemented in one or more such countries.

Does the size or type of applying entities matter?

Not at all. Entries are mainly expected from young entrepreneurs and social enterprises, the corporate responsibility departments of private sector companies of any size, NGOs and government or local government bodies and university communities. Entries from student teams will not be excluded.

Can ideas already implemented be submitted?

Yes, of course!

What is meant by “scale” or “scalability”?

The capacity to grow or replicate your project within your own and other spaces (geographic, target groups, etc.).

Should proposals be accompanied by a business plan?

All proposals must be accompanied by a general business plan and financial basics. Although a formal business plan is not required, the proposals need to be clear and convincing, so the key elements of a business plan such as a description of the product or services proposed, an assessment of financial and other resources required and demonstration of the overall sustainability of the proposal are essential. The business plan could include information about: unique value proposition, traction to date (number of users/people affected), funding to date (investments, grants) and the planned use of funds. Financial basics are also requested with information about costs (running costs and large items in your budget), revenues (past, present and projection) and break-even scenario(s).

How are applications to be submitted?

Proposals were to be submitted until 4 March 2020, 23:59 CET using the application form.

Is there a fee to enter the competition?

No fee! It is free.

What are the selection criteria for each round?

Proposals must comply with the Tournament requirements. In the 1st round, proposals will be screened on the basis of their clarity and the way the summary answers questions such as: What is the product or service proposed? What is its cost (for development and implementation)? How will this cost be covered? What are its social innovation and expected overall impacts? What are the chances of success?

The 2nd round assessment at the Final Event will take further account of the likelihood of sustainable implementation based on the scope of the proposal’s social vision and its overall cost effectiveness as well as the team’s commitment, strategy and implementation capacity.

When will the finalists who are to proceed to the 2nd round be announced?

The finalists of the 1st round who will be screened to proceed to the 2nd round of the Tournament will be announced on the EIB Institute’s website by 15 May 2020 at the latest. Please make sure that you are available for the mentoring bootcamp (17-19 June 2020) and final event (8October 2020). You can find all the key dates here.

Do proposals need to address the whole issue or can they focus on single aspects?

Any proposal that helps to find a solution, whether directly or indirectly, will be considered. Please note that the selection criteria include the relative significance of the problem targeted, the sustainability of the proposed innovation and the estimated social and/or environmental impact of the proposed solution.

What are the submission deadlines?

The deadline for proposals for the ninth EIB Institute Social Innovation Tournament is 4 March 2020, 23:59 CET.

How many projects can I submit?

Any single applicant can submit as many proposals as they want.

I applied last year. Can I apply again this year?

Winning projects cannot be re-submitted. Projects that were submitted in previous editions, even if they were finalists or won a mentoring voucher, can be re-submitted if there are improvements vis-à-vis the previous submission. Winning teams and individuals can apply as many times as they want with new projects.

My project won a prize in a previous edition of the Tournament. Can I apply again this year?

Yes you can, but with a new project!

Do proposals have to be not-for-profit?

Not necessarily. The Tournament aims to attract interest from both not-for-profit and for-profit organisations so as to better work towards meeting societal needs and contribute to the solution of neglected and complex societal problems.


About the Final Event and Prizes

How many prizes are there?

All projects will compete for two prizes in a General Category, and projects falling within the Special Category (in 2020, projects focusing on environment (with special emphasis on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation)) will also compete for two prizes in the Special Category. Winning projects in both categories will be awarded a 1st and 2nd prize of EUR 50 000 and EUR 20 000 respectively.

The winner of the 1st prize in the General Category will also receive an EY mentoring voucher (half-day business-plan fine-tuning offered by EY Transaction Advisory Services in Belgium).

No winner may get more than one prize. Winning projects cannot be re-submitted to compete in subsequent editions of the tournament.

Mentoring vouchers. Two project teams (up to two persons per project) will be selected to attend the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme in Fontainebleau, France.

All finalists will join the SIT Alumni Network. SIT Alumni benefit from numerous training opportunities, participate in conferences around Europe, and network with investors, venture philanthropists and foundations who can help their project to grow their impact.

Who will be invited to attend the Final Event?

Other than the Selection Committee and the finalists themselves, invitations will be sent to social innovation specialists, project experts, impact investors, foundations, financial experts, representatives of the NGO community and other professionals involved in promoting/supporting innovation, notably social innovation, including from the host institution. Participants in the Tournament not selected for the 2nd round will also be invited to attend.

What will be the composition of the Jury?

The Jury will be composed of social innovation specialists mainly from the fields of research and financing. The Jury will be present at the Final Event, follow the presentation of proposals by the finalists and deliberate before deciding on and announcing the winners.

Can proposals selected for the 2nd round be altered for the final presentation at the event?

The finalists will be allowed to fine-tune/complete their ideas between the two rounds, ensuring that they meet the 2nd round assessment criteria. Final proposals must be submitted no later than 9 September 2020.

How will the Final Event be organised?

The selected finalists will be invited to give a public presentation of their proposal (7 minutes each), which may be followed by questions from the Jury (5 minutes). The deliberations of the Jury will take place at the end of the presentations and lead to the announcement of the winners and the award of the respective prizes.


Other FAQ

Will any of the participants’ costs be met by the organisers?

Travel expenses for up to two people to travel to Lisbon, Portugal, will be covered for teams or individuals with proposals selected for the 2nd round. Travel expenses for two members of the team to attend the mentoring bootcamp, which will take place in Lisbon, Portugal will also be met by the organisers. The team members attending the bootcamp should be the same two members that are presenting at the Final Event.