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Social Innovation Relay 2021 awards best social innovators of the year

23 June 2021

For the 7th consecutive year, JA Europe and NN Group have partnered to implement the Social Innovation Relay (SIR), an innovative programme designed to teach essential skills to secondary school students while underscoring the link between businesses and the society. Connected by leading technologies, 40 students from 10 countries collaborated with NN Group volunteers to create business concepts that address societal challenges.

Yesterday, 40 student teams from Bulgaria, Czechia, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, and Spain joined the SIR Global Final online to present their business ideas to a panel of judges. The jury was composed of Lonneke Roza, Community Investment, NN Group; Melchior de Ridder, Head of Retail Platform, NN Group; Roberta Bosurgi, CEO European Venture Philanthropy Association; Eva Birinyi, Head of Sector at the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA); and Tessa Tippersma, CEO and Founder of Cracklingsoap.

Scribo Markers (Slovakia), Team Esperanza (Singapore) and Pet-Link (Greece) came up with the most innovative ideas that combined societal impact with market potential, in an event that marked the culmination of the Social Innovation Relay. The programme helps young people think like social entrepreneurs, giving them access to the latest technologies and showing them that starting their own business can be a viable career choice. 

About Scribo Markers from Slovakia

Scribo Markers’ vision is to make every school and company progressively more sustainable through a novel and ecological way of writing on whiteboards. Thanks to their innovative wax composition, these markers never dry out and do not need a plastic cover, thus not producing any excess waste.

About Team Esperanza from Singapore

Rezistable is a one-stop guide for sustainable wardrobe management. It allows consumers to make greener purchases, and facilitates the decision-making process through behavioral change and positive reinforcement, effectively reducing garment waste and building a community of environmentally conscious individuals. 

About Pet-Link from Greece

Pet-Link offers a holistic solution for the entire animal adoption chain. Through a two-way questionnaire, the website matches humans and animals for adoption, suggesting those that have the greatest degree of relevance to the potential foster family. It has also created the first blood bank for dogs.

"The future is rooted in social innovation, as organizational legitimacy increasingly depends on its contribution to society. If your concept is not created to explicitly make a positive impact, it won’t be sustainable. The way Social Innovation Relay prepares these innovative youngsters for the current-day world makes a big impact. I would like to highly encourage all participants in this final to bring their ideas to the market.” ~ Melchior De Ridder – Head of Retail Platform, NN Group

Since 2015, JA Europe and NN Group have been working together to empower young people with a wide range of work readiness and financial literacy skills while, at the same time, tackling societal challenges by using innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2021, this partnership has been taken to a new level through a stronger focus on youngsters with lesser resources or opportunities with the aim of facilitating their transition into employment by enhancing their employability.

Solving today’s complex social and economic challenges is only possible through increased focus on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Through the Social Innovation Relay, JA Europe and NN Group are giving the next generation of opportunities – what we call #Gen_E – with the opportunities to pioneer concrete solutions with social impact that can be later scaled up and applied for the benefit of the broader economy” ~ Salvatore Nigro, CEO JA Europe


About JA Europe

JA Europe is the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide® which for 100 years has delivered hands on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. JA creates pathways for employability, job creation and financial success. Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached almost 4 million young people across 40 countries with the support of nearly 100,000 business volunteers and over 140,000 teachers/educators.

About NN Group

NN Group is a financial services company active in 20 countries. We provide retirement services, pensions, insurance, investments and banking to approximately 18 million customers. At NN, we put our resources, expertise, and networks to use for the well-being of our customers, the advancement of our communities, the preservation of our planet, and for the promotion of a stable, inclusive, and sustainable economy. We do business with the future in mind and contribute to a world where people can thrive for many generations to come. For instance, through the NN Future Matters programme, we aim to empower people in the markets where we operate to support them in growing their economic opportunities.

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