Signly selected as one of ten finalists in 2017 European Social Innovation Competition ‘Equality Rebooted’

Ten European social innovators to compete for three €50,000 prizes awarded by the European Commission

Signly has been selected from a shortlist of 30 semi-finalists out of almost 800 entries in the 2017 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition, Equality Rebooted. This year’s Finalists have ideas to ‘reboot’ equality and ensure everyone in Europe benefits from the opportunities created by technological change. Their solutions present fresh, energetic approaches to digital inclusion, collaborative economy, connectivity and skills development. See the full 2017 Competition announcement and list of all 30 semi-finalists, including the 10 finalists here:

The average deaf school leaver has a reading age equivalent to that of a 9-year-old hearing child. Because literacy can be low amongst the d/Deaf masses of essential written content is not independently accessible for this group.

For example, an investigation by the (Money Advice Service (MAS) has found young blind or deaf people in the UK receive “barely any” specialised financial education.

An estimate for the European Union is 750,000 Deaf sign language users. This does not include people learning a sign language as a second language or children of Deaf parents or other family members.

Signly is an app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to written content for d/Deaf sign language users at a time and place that is suitable for them. Signly enabling books or brochures on the topic of money management alongside the written word could drive financial and digital literacy and help improve reading skills.

Mark Applin, Co-founder at Signly said:

“This is an incredible opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young d/Deaf people. Our mentor helped give us real clarity and focus – we’d always had a keen interest in education and zooming in on the topic of money management was a real epiphany and getting the detail down in a business plan has given us a clear strategy for the next 12 months.

Now we’re finalists, we hope awareness of the app will grow and we can secure a large technical partner. The potential prize would be our first ever round of funding and help us deliver our goal of making essential information accessible to the Deaf community.”

Signly attended a mentoring academy in Madrid in July where they worked with experts in social innovation to refine their idea, before pitching to a jury of successful social innovators with expertise in digital innovation and skills development. Over the summer, they worked with an individual coach to develop their business plan. The jury have now critically evaluated each business plan and selected the 10 strongest entries.

Anna Sienicka, Vice President Europe Techsoup and member of the 2017 jury commented:

“As a jury, we were excited by the diversity and scope of all the shortlisted projects this year. They prove that social innovation will help to make our world more equal and fit for the future. All 10 finalists are fantastic examples of the types of tools, services and models that enable people, regardless of their specific context and environment, to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution. I hope these projects will inspire others to put their own ideas into action, and also catalyse new ways of addressing inequality for governments and communities throughout Europe alike.”

Organised since 2012 in memory of Portuguese politician and social innovator Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition will help the most innovative ideas to become real and sustainable projects.

Three winners will be selected from the 10 Finalists and will each be awarded with a prize of €50,000 at the Awards Ceremony on 26 October 2017 in Brussels.

For full details please visit:

Follow the competition on Twitter: @EUSocialInnov #diogochallenge

Notes to editors

About the European Social Innovation Competition

The European Social Innovation Competition, launched in memory of Diogo Vasconcelos, is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all European countries, now in its fifth year. The theme of the 2017 competition is Equality Rebooted and seeks to find innovations in tools, services, and models that allow everyone to seize the opportunities offered by technological change.

The competition is organised by the European Commission, supported by Nesta, Kennisland, Shipyard, Impact Hub and Matter&Co.

For information about previous competitions and winning projects see:





About Signly

We believe the Signly app is unique – a UK and world first.

Signly is an award-winning app which displays pre-recorded sign language videos on a user’s mobile, enabling better access to written content for d/Deaf sign language users.

For more information on Signly please visit or contact

For press enquiries please contact:
Rachel Pidgeon +44 (0)203 861 3341