Three winning tech ideas bring opportunities for all

Three technical innovations to transform people’s lives have been announced as winners in a Europe-wide competition.

They are an online platform to create sustainable homes, a tool that allows blind people to feel shapes on a touch-screen and a peer-to-peer learning network.

The European Social Innovation Competition aims to help the most innovative ideas across the EU to develop into sustainable projects. This year, the theme was ‘equality rebooted’, focusing on projects which enable everyone to benefit from the opportunities created by technological developments.

There is a growing gap between those who are equipped to take advantage of digitisation and automation and those who are lagging behind

The three winners were selected from a total of nearly 800 entries from more than 40 countries. Each winner receives €50,000 and they were announced at a ceremony on 26 October in Brussels.

European commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: “Digitisation and automation are rapidly changing the way we live and work. There is a growing gap between those who are equipped to take advantage of this transformation and those who are lagging behind.”

This year’s competition looked for “new ideas for a truly inclusive economy and society”, she said, adding: “The three winning projects have the potential to make a real difference.”

The three winners

Buildx, from the UK: A collaborative platform that offers the tools and knowledge to design and build sustainable homes and neighbourhoods to individuals and local communities. Using open source digital technology, the power to build affordable housing is put into the hands of communities to develop affordable homes for themselves.

Feelif, from Slovenia: A multimedia tool for blind and visually-impaired people which allows them to feel shapes on a flat touch-screen using an app and a special relief grid.

Saga, from the Netherlands: A peer-to-peer learning network which helps people to gain a flexible education and learn in-demand skills from industry experts. It uses blockchain to create a digital record of lessons that have been completed and the results.