Social innovation drafts solutions to pressing social challenges. It provides room for new approaches, gives innovative answers and lays new paths. Social innovation either reacts to a new social question or it solves a known problem by a new practice. The effected group (target group) acts by itself or at least the action has to involve the effected group. In this manner, social innovation creates sustainable, exemplary solutions that inspire others.

Definition of social innovation, Unruhe Privatstiftung

About the prize

SozialMarie is a prize for social innovation awarded to 15 outstanding projects every year. With its first call for applications in 2004 and awarding in 2005 it has been the first prize for social innovation in Europe. Beyond a financial recognition adding up to €55,000, SozialMarie primarily offers a public platform for social innovative projects in Central and Eastern Europe.

Wanda Moser-Heindl und Friedrich Moser

Wanda Moser-Heindl and Friedrich Moser

International right from the start, SozialMarie has acquired a solid reputation in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia. Unruhe Privatstiftung, established by Wanda Moser-Heindl and Friedrich Moser in 2000, manages the prize.

Appreciation for courageous projects

Beyond novelty of the idea, the SozialMarie Criteria for Social Innovation focus on involvement of different groups, effectiveness of implementation and best practice example. SozialMarie awards only successfully implemented projects and is a premium seal of quality for effective social innovation. To promote and disseminate exemplary projects, as well as to advance the discussion about social innovation are SozialMarie’s main goals.

Award ceremony

From all submissions to the annual call, the expert jury nominates max. 35 projects for the prize and consequently selects the best 15 projects to be awarded and announced on May 1 at the Award Ceremony in Vienna. The first three prizes are endowed with €15,000, €10,000 and €5,000; the other twelve prizes are endowed with €2,000 each.

Active patronage

Inspiring personalities overtake the active patronage of awarded or nominated projects of their choice every year. The role of the patrons is an active one, they accompany or support the project over the following year. Patrons announce their chosen projects at the annual award Ceremony on May 1.

Audience Award

The Audience Award gives everyone the chance to vote for their favourite project among each year's nominees. The winner receives € 1,000 for educational purposes. The Audience Award is separate from the jury prizes.

Expert Jury

Elisabeth Hammer

Mag.a DSAin Elisabeth Hammer

Elisabeth Hammer is chief executive at neunerhaus, social scientist and social worker. She is editor of several textbooks and regularly publishes papers on homelessness. Currently she is chairlady of BAWO – Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe (National Association Assistance to the Homeless).

DI Ana Jeinić

Ana Jeinić is a doctoral student at the Institute for Architectural Theory, Art and Cultural Studies in Graz, studied architecture and philosophy in Graz, Venice and Delft. She researched and taught critical design and spatial theory at the Graz University of Technology and as a guest lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. In her current research she tries to trace a post neoliberal concept of design and innovation.

Miro Kocur

Dr. Miroslav Kocúr, PhD

Miroslav Kocúr currently works in The Methodology and Pedagogy Centre (MPC) in Bratislava. His main focus is the support and development of young people who run innovative educational, business and non-profit projects. He was the first director of the C.S. Lewis Bilingual High School in Bratislava. For the last six years worked for LEAF educational organization, since 2021 leads a special course for the Commenius University in Bratislava on transdisciplinary perspective of human science, knowledge and education. He publishes regularly on socio-ethical issues in major Slovak dailies and other media.

Katalin Teller

Dr. habil. Katalin Teller, PhD

Katalin Teller is university lecturer at the Department of Aesthetics of the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies at Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. She is working on international and interdisciplinary research projects on cultural techniques, migration literature, urban history and popular culture, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society in Vienna. She regularly translates in the fields of cultural theory and history, as well as journalistic works.

Veronika Janyrova

Mag.a Veronika Č. Janýrová, MBA

Veronika Janýrová is project manager at The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw), focusing on the organizational management of international research consortia and the coordination of EU-funded research projects. She is a simultaneous interpreter and has been engaged in numerous film, art, print and cultural productions with an Austrian-Czech dimension as well.

Tanja Tamše

Tanja Tamše

Tanja Tamše is currently a project manager at the Center of Space Technologies Herman Potočnik Noordung where she is in charge of EU projects mainly on the topic of social innovation. Between 2019 and 2021 she was a part of the consortium that co-created a white book on Social Innovation public policies and strategies. In her current project (SEED EU project, 2021-2023), the partner countries are building blueprints for national competence centers for social innovation. In her previous work, she was managing smaller teams in China and Africa (Tanzania, South Africa) mostly in IT, waste management and tourism sectors.