EIB Social Innovation Tour in Lisbon
The European Investment Bank’s Social Innovation Tournament was in Lisbon to hand out awards to startup entrepreneurs who aim to create impact in people’s lives in the environment or civil society.
The Portuguese ‘The Newsroom’ were among the finalists in the 10th edition but did not make the list of winners. They had, however, been chosen for the shortlist out of 280 candidates.
In an interview with Jornal Económico from the Champalimaud Foundation venue where the final took place, Luísa Ferreira, economic advisor and head of the EIB’s Social Programme said the initiative had been “positive” and outlined the “strong development of the startup sector in this area over the past decade”.
“Ever since we began this competition in Europe to choose the best social entrepreneurs, we’ve seen a lot of competitions being organised in different countries. I wouldn’t say it has become a fashion, but there’s a lot more focus on these themes, particularly environmental ones,” she said.
“Ten years ago, when you mentioned ‘social’ people had the idea you were doing something to do with social welfare, however, today the idea is understood that these projects have to be self-sustaining, generate revenue streams and grow”.
“The sector has become professionalised and there is an awareness that entrepreneurs have solutions”, she added.
The Social Innovation Tournament recognises and supports the best European social entrepreneurs. It promotes innovative ideas and rewards initiatives that contribute to creating social, ethical or environmental impact. Typically, it covers projects in the areas of education, healthcare, the environment, circular economy, inclusion, job creation, ageing and many more.
In 2021, the Special Category prizes will go to projects focusing on sustainable living. Two projects will be selected to attend INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship programme in Fontainebleau, France.
The tournament runs in two rounds. A Selection Committee comprised mainly of EIB Group experts in innovation, the environment, and other relevant disciplines selects 15 finalists. The finalists participate in a tailor-made training programme (Mentoring Bootcamp, e-training on pitching, one-to-one coaching sessions, Rehearsal Bootcamp) to provide them with the necessary guidance to finalise their proposals and prepare them for the Pitching Competition where all the finalists have to present and defend their project to a jury of social innovation specialists. In 2021, the Final Event was held on 7 October in Lisbon.
EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix (pictured), who presided over the tournament, said: “These innovative projects will contribute to making the society we live in fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable. The EIB is the EU Bank. We support cohesion, climate action and innovation. We are more than a financier, we are a supporter of entrepreneurs, ideas and different expertise.”
The Portuguese startup Newsroom was founded by Pedro Pamplona Henriques. Based in Lisbon, its main mission is to combat the dissemination of fake news and disinformation and hate speech on the internet.
It developed technology based in AI which enables an evaluation of news and public statements online in a reliable and transparent manner. Other Portuguese startups involved in the competition included Teach for Portugal which through mentoring seeks to find and nurture the true potential of children and Speak which aims to solve the problem of sociocultural exclusion and integrate immigrants in the cities in which they live.