The Social Impact Award was launched in 2009,…
In 2009, the first Social Impact Award was launched in Vienna with the mission to encourage young students to engage in social entrepreneurship. Starting with the observation that social entrepreneurship was not part of any academic curriculum in the entire country, we decided that we wanted to fill the void: any student in Austria should get the chance to find out what social entrepreneurship was, whether it was a desirable career path for her and to get some help in getting started. Rather than awarding projects that were already up and running, the award was therefore designed to support young entrepreneurs in their first steps: by offering workshops on start-up topics, by awarding early stage founders, and by giving each project individual feedback. In spite of being an absolute start-up itself and lacking everything apart from motivation, the first edition of the SIA was surprisingly successful: We received 59 project submissions from across the country, reflecting an enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship among students that was beyond our highest hopes. The first winner of the Social Impact Award reflected this energy in a great venture: Project-E, a school for Ethiopian orphan girls that was designed in collaboration with companies and the German development agency and would become financial self-sustainable through alumni fees.
…grew in 2010 and 2011…
Motivated from this experience, we decided to improve the workshop curriculum and integrate more of the teaching and research know how from the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The workshops in 2010 covered topics like inspiration, business planning and a chance for applicants to get personal 1:1 feedback from the jury (in advance to submission deadline). For the first time, they took place in the HUB Vienna which opened its doors in spring. In 2010 the Social Impact Award could attract more students to participate in the workshops than before: 63 project ideas were submitted by roughly 200 students. The number of projects that could be supported with Social Impact Award Stipends was raised to four: Compost Paros, Made IN-Made BY, Solar Projekt Senegal and venim la voi.
2011 marked the beginning of professionalising the Social Impact Award. ERSTE Foundation joined as supporter and together we started getting closer to our initial vision in terms of scale and scope. Instead of just addressing students from Vienna, we wanted to get in touch with students from all over the country. So, workshops in 2011 were not only offered in Vienna, but throughout Austria. Several hundred students took part in the educational program and more than 200 students submitted 84 projects. In addition to the four jury prizes, a community prize was introduced. It allowed determining one winner in a democratic online voting. The winners of 2011 were Footprint, Lüxing Laoshi, New Solar Pump, the Connection, and whatchado.
…and expanded towards the CEE region in 2012.
In 2012, the Social Impact Award went international. Together with the HUB Prague in the Czech Republic and roPot in Romania, we looked forward to making the award a truly meaningful, international experience. Start-up workshops were offered in all three countries and applicants were competing for one of 7 prizes: 4 jury awards and 3 community awards.
Firstly, 5 teams of every country were chosen by a local jury for joining the next round. By the end of may the international jury gave their votes and decided who would be one of the winners of the Social Impact Award 2012. The winners of 2012 year were: Enterprising Schools (CZ), Upside Down (RO), Out of Box (AUT) and iDEPART (AUT). The Community Award winners were: Pragulic (CZ), Sezatoarea (RO) and SuperSoulMe (AUT). The teams are now working on their projects and met in November, at the Community Conference in Prague to share their experiences and support each other.