Wrap-up: Social Innovation Camp Flanders
We spent the weekend in Gent, Flanders, Belgium working with the iDrops team on Social Innovation Camp Flanders. The team ran 12 mini-lab workshops around Flanders over the past few months and had a massive 60 ideas submitted. Five ideas made the cut to the final weekend, and they’ll all have four months of support from the iDrops team to develop their ideas further, at the end of which there will be another presentation in front of prospective funders and investors.
The winners: DigiTAAL, with a €5,000 grant
DigitTAAL are providing a way for language learners (of Flemish) to find someone to speak to to practise their spoken language skills. Often, new immigrants arriving in Belgium study to acquire a skill, but it takes time to develop natural language skills – critical in employment and feeling included as a member of one’s local community. They are also going to develop a series of voice-based wiki-style tutorials where experts can explain common phrases that they think are important in Flemish – from colloquialisms to how to get a driving license.
The runners-up: Waste Watchers, with a series of Samsung tablets
Waste Watchers spent a lot of time speaking to food-related charities, and discovered that, although there is a lot of food going to waste, that it was too difficult to connect smaller restaurants, bakeries, butchers, and grocers with food charities: there is just not enough capacity in the system. The food charities, however, can use much more food. Waste Watchers is building an alert system where a given user can easily deliver food on their normal commute – making use of the empty space in cars and bicycle baskets that’s going spare.
Njam! Started off as Wat we eten vandaag? (What do we eat today). They have decided to focus on getting young mothers cooking fresh, healthy food. In conversations with food banks and other food- and nutrition-related charities, they discovered that providing food was not enough – their clients didn’t know what to do with food, from parsnips to potatoes. They are focusing on simple, easy, nutritious recipes that are fast and easy to prepare. The website allows searching by ingredient or cost.
Lets Pet combines the Lets Gent system of timebanking with petsitting for those who can’t afford to go on holiday. Holidays are critical for everyone: to rest, recharge, and to feel included in society. The Lets Pet team are partnering with an existing charity that finds and brokers deals for families who could not otherwise holiday. Families with pets, however, usually cannot take their pets with them. The Lets Pet team will crowdsource petsitting services from existing pet owners for a cost of €1/day for holidays of up to 5 days.
The Try Out team felt that often people didn’t find employment because they didn’t know what they would be interested in or good at. They are going to find companies who are willing to give a half-day tour and overview of the company with a half-day micro-internship to young at-risk new mothers.
Massive congratulations to the teams, and special thanks to Professor Dominique Verté from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and an advisor to the Belgian Office of Social Innovation, who spoke wise words about the need and the strong future of social innovation in Europe.