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Key findings from the Social Challenges Platform

Published: 21/11/2018
Analysis of the Platform’s first three Calls demonstrates that cities and regions can use challenge-based innovation to both meet social challenges and stimulate SME growth.

The analyses, released in full today, were previewed at the Cohesion Policy meets Social Enterprises workshop during the European Week of Regions and Cities.


"Social innovation by definition creates value," observed Mark Niklas of DG GROW as he urged the audience to "make good use" of the platform.

Towards a self-sustaining platform

The analyses show, according to project manager Dario Mazzella, that challenge-based innovation "allows every city and region to tap creative solutions from across Europe" to solve social problems, with the 3rd Call demonstrating that the platform is becoming self-sustaining:

"While ‘local nodes’ were crucial to get the message out initially, a good half of the Challenges and Solutions to Call 3 were from countries, regions and organisations unconnected to these nodes"
- Sparking Startup Creativity to meet Social Challenges

The approach piloted by the project is now available ‘off the shelf’ via the META Innovation Platform, launched at the workshop:

"... your own online challenge-based innovation programme, on your domain with your design. While the original code was developed for the project, we’ve developed it considerably to reflect lessons learnt"
- Put your City on the Startup Map with META Innovation Platform, Andrea Di Anselmo (Vice President, META)

Key data analyses


The above 8 slides set out key data analyses from the Impact Report:

  1. The process builds solutions: Almost 50 cities and regions in 18 countries posted 83 Challenges, provoking almost 500 Solutions from 36 countries. Of these, 81 promising ideas were awarded a grant and six months of mentoring to develop a prototype. Of these, 27 will launch with their first client: the Challenge Owner.
  2. Challenges attract Innovators: almost 80% of Solution Providers were SMEs, startups or solopreneurs 
  3. Spinoffs: European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) joined the Platform mid-project with two Challenges concerning migrant integration. These generated another 120 Solutions (Winners will be chosen later this year). An Italian city and a major insurance firm are the first to use the META Innovation Platform to create their own challenge-based innovation programme.
  4. Challenge-based platforms like this allow smaller cities to punch above their weight, competing with much larger cities for startups and innovative solutions
  5. Solution Providers from most countries prefer local opportunities, but do not hesitate to look abroad
  6. A solid minority (35%) of Winners crossed national borders to solve a Challenge
  7.  While cities can punch above their weight, they won’t punch at all if they don't promote their challenge
  8. The Platform complements the SME Instrument, generating relatively more grant-winners in Southern Europe


Download the report (pdf)