The European Social Catalyst Fund (ESCF) was designed to have significant impact on some of Europe’s most pressing social challenges. It was established and co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Genio (Ireland), the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and the King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium) and launched in Brussels on January 16 2020. Genio lead the ESCF rollout.
Objectives of the ESCF
  • To provide financial support, guidance and information to proven social service innovations selected through a pan-European competition to develop implementation plans to upscale.
  • To stimulate a broader range of public sector, philanthropic and social investment collaborations that foster the scaling of social service innovations to meet social challenges across EU Member States aligned with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  • To produce exemplar plans across a range of priority social challenge areas that can be implemented to a substantial level of scale within two years.
  • Plans also must be relevant to the social and implementation challenges in at least five EU Member States, two of which will be Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs).
  • To develop and disseminate knowledge and skills on how to successfully plan the scaling of social service innovations.
  • To design a further phase of the European Social Catalyst Fund based on learning obtained in the process of achieving these objectives.
Applications for funding

The ESCF was designed to identify proven social innovations with potential to make a significant contribution to meeting some of Europe’s most pressing social challenges and provide financial and non-financial support to a selected in order that they can develop plans for scaling within and across EU Member States. The Fund consists of €600,000 with a view to awarding planning grants to 6-7 innovations.

The ESCF was launched on 16 January 2020 in Brussels with a pan-European call for applications. A website was set up at where interested parties could access the Call, the FAQ and the application portal. The initial closing date was 16 April 2020. This was postponed by agreement to 11 September 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow those interested in applying (many of whom were likely to be diverted into emergency responses) to have sufficient time to prepare applications. By the closing date, 120 completed applications were received through the online application portal from 22 countries across the EU.

After a thorough evaluation process by the ESCF Consortium represented by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Genio Trust with advice from the ESCF Advisory Group, 7 applications were chosen to receive planning grants from the ESCF fund of €600,000 along with capacity building support.

For more information please visit:

Complex Systems Change

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