Horizon Prize for Social Innovation in Europe: "Improved Mobility for Older People"

Innovations are new or significantly improved goods, services, processes and methods which are social when they aim at gains for society rather than for the individual, i.e. when they are good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act. Very often social challenges cannot be met with traditional recipes and approaches.

The European Commission has launched a € 2 Million Horizon prize on social innovation in the area of Aging Population to stimulate novel replicable solutions for the benefit of European citizens. By 2025 more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, with a particularly rapid increase in the number of people aged over 80 years.

Improved Mobility for Older People

The ageing of European population is a pressing challenge, creating a broad range of issues. Mobility is a particularly complex one, as it intersects many other issues1. This contest focuses on the out-of-home movement of people from one place to another. Improved mobility has a positive impact on older people’s independence and participation in socio-economic life (resulting in benefits for themselves and for society as a whole), and also facilitates their access to educational, medical, cultural and other services. Ultimately, mobility is critical to the wellbeing of older people, and to their physical and mental health.

Public transport does not always meet the special needs of the elderly, notably those with mobility or other impairments – whether at city level or when preparing a multimodal journey across Europe.

Objectives pursued

The aim of the prize is to improve the mobility of older people by providing innovative mobility solutions allowing them to maintain independence and actively participate in social life.

While the main target group is the elderly (aged 65+), the solutions developed in the context of this contest may also be beneficial to other parts of the population, such as people with reduced mobility.

This inducement prize requires applicants to demonstrate that their solution was implemented or underwent major changes, between the opening date and the submission of their application. Major changes may e.g. relate to the features of the solution, to the user population (scaling-up, or replication in other locations), or to the adaptation of a pre-existing scheme to new categories of users.
To allow for creativity, each contestant can decide the nature of the solution to be developed and submitted. The solutions should also address “soft” issues such as communication and integrated personalised services2, and not only purely technical ones (linked e.g. to infrastructure, vehicles, software/apps, etc.).

Within the broad area of out-of-home mobility, each contestant will be free to decide on which issue(s) its solution will focus, in terms of target population, journey typology, geographical factors, etc. To offer an example (which does not restrict in any way the general scope of the contest), a particular issue for which solutions are scarce, or fragmented and insufficiently integrated, is about door-to-door mobility based on multimodal journey planning for persons with reduced mobility.

The award criteria (section 5 below) describe in detail how the submitted solutions will be evaluated.

Expected results

The solutions proposed should represent significant long-term improvements for specific target groups, such as elderly people living in isolated areas, or older persons with reduced mobility in urban areas. Applicants should also explain their solution’s impact with respect to the creation of new market opportunities and jobs e.g. in innovative small companies, transport operators, social economy start-ups or NGOs at local, regional or national level.

The solutions will be assessed based on progress made – and evidenced – against the award criteria between opening of the contest and submission of the application. These award criteria, set forth below, further clarify the expected results.

Prize Amounts

One first prize of EUR 1,000,000 and four prizes of EUR 250,000 each (thus 2 M€ in total).

Deadlines & Admissibility


  • Opening of the submission: 27 November 2017
  • Deadline to declare intention to participate: 31 July 2018
  • Closing date for submission: 28 February 2019 at 17:00 CET
  • Evaluations: March to June 2019
  • Award: Third quarter of 2019

Applications must be submitted by the participant via the Participant Portal Submission Service.

Joint applications by a group of participants are admitted. In this case, the participants must appoint a 'lead participant' to represent them towards the Commission. The participants will be jointly responsible and must all fulfil and respect the conditions set out in these Rules of Contest. Applications must be readable, accessible and printable. Incomplete applications may be considered inadmissible if essential elements are missing (see General Annex B to the Main Work Programme).

The page-limit for your prize application (Part B) is 20 pages, not counting possible annexes (of max. 20 pages in total – for data and secondary information, including for instance figures, business plans, pictures, etc.).

In addition to a written application, applicants are also encouraged to prepare a short video (max. duration 4 minutes, max. file size 3 GB) supporting their application, with the understanding that this video, if submitted, will be viewed by jury members and may be made public by the Commission (either the entire video or parts thereof), e.g. through websites. The jury will be instructed not to pay attention to the technical quality of the videos.

Applicants must moreover declare their intention to participate by registering their interest via RTD-SOCIAL-INNOVATION-PRIZE@ec.europa.eu by 31 July 2018.

Sample application forms will be available on the Participant Portal Reference documents page.


Eligibility criteria

The contest is open to any legal entity (including natural persons) or group of legal entities established in an EU Member State or in a country associated to Horizon 2020.

Please note however that special rules may apply for entities from certain countries (see General Annex C to the Main Work Programme).Please also be aware that participants that have already received an EU or Euratom prize cannot receive a second prize for the same activities.

Exclusion criteria

Participants will be excluded if they (or one of them):

  • are subject to an administrative sanction (i.e. exclusion)
  • are in one of the following situations:
    • bankrupt, being wound up, having their affairs administered by the courts, entered into an arrangement with creditors, suspended business activities or subject to any other similar proceedings or procedures under national law (including persons with unlimited liability for the participant's debts)
    • declared in breach of social security or tax obligations by a final judgment or decision (including persons with unlimited liability for the participant's debts)
    • found guilty of grave professional misconduct6 by a final judgment or decision (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)
    • convicted of fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation, money laundering, terrorism-related crimes (including terrorism financing), child labour or human trafficking (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)
    • shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations under a procurement contract, grant agreement or grant decision financed by the EU or Euratom budget (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)
    • found guilty of irregularities within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Regulation No 2988/95 (including persons having powers of representation, decision-making or control)
  • have misrepresented information required for participating in the contest or fail to submit such information
  • were involved in the preparation of the prize documents and this entails a distortion of competition.

Award Criteria

Compliance with the criteria below (including the description of the respective baseline scenario) needs to be demonstrated on the basis of clear and objective measurements, in accordance with the following explanations. Applicants are encouraged to go beyond these minimum requirements, and to rely on additional indicators as appropriate.

The prizes will be awarded to the entries that in the opinion of the jury demonstrates a solution that best addresses the following specific award criteria:

Social impact

Improvement (against the closest existing solutions) of participation of older people in social activities (e.g. access to culture, entertainment, community activities, sports, education, healthcare, meeting family and friends, shopping, vacation).

Addressing unmet needs would be particularly valuable.

Appropriate indicators (e.g. wellbeing, as reflected by satisfaction surveys) will have to be developed by applicants – possibly also adressing specific categories of users if relevant.

Higher marks will be given for defining and using additional indicators; in particular, regarding the assessment of both social and economic impact, the Social Return on Investment (SROI7) approach is one possible option.

Economic impact

The economic impact of the proposed solution, assessed on the basis of its implementation during the contest period, must be clearly quantified and analysed. This should include as many perspectives as possible – of municipalities, operators of the solution and society at large; in terms of direct and also indirect impact (e.g. enabling more economic provision of healthcare).

Where appropriate, job/company creation aspects should also be considered.

Community engagement

Community engagement relates to the involvement of the community during the development, implementation and/or assessment of the proposed solution – including in terms of promoting awareness, or of providing funding (in particular via community-based funding sources such as NGOs, crowdfunding or charities).

Community includes groups such as potential users and/or their representative associations, authorities such as municipalities, general citizens, NGOs, social services, retirement homes, local/regional businesses, volunteers, etc. supporting the solution.

Where appropriate, shared benefits for several of these groups should be underlined.

Scalability and replicability

Applicants must demonstrate that the proposed solution can be scaled-up at its current location or beyond (e.g.: extension from urban to regional level, or to new user categories), and/or be replicated in other locations, especially in other EU Member States. Evidence should be provided as part of a business plan, based e.g. on a market analysis, including user needs that have not yet been met.

When assessing scalability and replicability, constraints and risks should be clearly identified. The case being, cultural factors (not least language issues) should also be considered.

Any constraints or assumptions must be explicitly disclosed (e.g. the fact that the solution is only targeting certain categories of users, or requires the use of a smartphone or personal computer, or is only applicable for city-level transportation).


Applicants must demonstrate the economic long-term sustainability of the proposed solution – addressing questions such as: How affordable is the proposed solution? How is long-term operational funding ensured? How will the necessary resources be ensured (staffing, buildings, vehicles, IT systems, maintenance and upgrades, etc.), especially in the event of an up-scaling? Higher marks will be given to environment-conscious solutions.

Originality and creativity

Each application must describe the state-of-the-art, i.e. those pre-existing schemes9 that are closest to the proposed solution, before explaining to what extent the proposed solution represents an improvement over these pre-existing schemes. Higher marks will be given to solutions substantially different from existing schemes, not relying on minor improvements.

Originality and creativity should primarily reside in the features having an positive impact on the users, but may also relate to the business model underlying the solution proposed, or to the methodology used to develop it.


Improved mobility of older (65+) people – or of specific categories thereof10 – (against the closest existing solutions) has to be demonstrated in a measurable way in terms of ease of travel (reduced travel time for a given journey/distance, accessibility of services, satisfaction of customers, frequency of service, etc.).

Solutions implemented for less than 5 months during the contest period will attract marks lower than 5 for this criterion.

Higher marks will be given to applications relating to solutions which have been successfully tested with a significant user base.

Applicants are expected to define and use suitable indicators depending on the nature of their solution, e.g. specific to urban, rural or long-distance multimodal mobility11, and/or to specific user groups, etc.


The evaluation of applications will be carried out by a jury of independent evaluators.

If there are more than 50 applications, there will be a pre-selection phase, carried out by a pre-selection panel, to select the best 50 applications to pass to jury review. Otherwise, all applications will pass directly to jury review. The pre-selection panel and the jury may have a different composition. The jury review will identify up to 10 finalists, provided that their marks reach at least the thresholds mentioned below. The finalists will be invited in the 2nd quarter of 2019 for a hearing with the jury. On-site visits may also be conducted in order to assess the solutions proposed by the finalists. On the basis of the jury’s evaluation of the applications, hearings and possible visits – which will not be binding on the Commission –, the latter will decide on the award of the prize, and reserves the right to select a smaller number of winners or no winner at all.

The jury evaluation is planned to take place between March and June 2019.

The pre-selection panel/jury will evaluate each eligible application against the 7 award criteria.

Based on the evaluation a first prize of EUR 1,000,000 and four prizes of EUR 250,000 will be awarded.

For applications with the same score, the pre-selection panel/jury will determine a priority order according to the following approach: the scores for the criteria No 1 and 2 will be given a weight of 2 and the scores for the other criteria will be given a weight of 1. If two applications tie for the first rank, the price will be divided and awarded to both.

The overall threshold is 70/100.

All participants will be informed by mid-2019 on the outcome of their application.

Date de candidature
Sciences sociales
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie