A proud moment for the entire University of Luxembourg incubator ecosystem: Magrid, a University of Luxembourg startup led by Tahereh Pazouki, won first prize on 7 October at the EIB Institute’s Social Innovation Tournament, which for the tenth time honoured the best European social entrepreneurs.
Magrid is a language-free educational programme in the field of mathematics. It was originally developed against the background that there is an enormous number of pupils in Luxembourg with different language backgrounds, who for this reason have problems following lessons well. The solution: a language-free tool with visual instructions replacing the verbal ones.
“We are all different and very individual. If we don’t have a good learning opportunity that works equally well for all pupils, it is mainly due to a lack of technique on our side, not on the part of the children”, Tahereh Pazouki, founder of Magrid, told Silicon Luxembourg in August. By removing the language barrier to learning mathematics, Magrid provides equal educational opportunities for all learners and helps close the achievement gap between native and non-native speakers.
Happy and proud to announce the winners of #SIT21Lisbon! 1st prize @LearningMagrid, 2nd prize Inclusive Education, Special Category 1st prize Cellugy, 2nd prize @OrangeFiber, Audience Choice Award @OrangeFiber, INSEAD vouchers @OrangeFiber and @VortexBladeless – Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/eyy6D4GfEs
— EIB INSTITUTE (@EIBINSTITUTE) October 7, 2021
This concept and the innovative and user-friendly solution convinced the jury of the Social Innovation Tournament (SIT) in Lisbon. With a strong pitch of its concept, Magrid competed on the spot against 14 other finalists from nine European countries. The finalists were selected from 280 outstanding candidates and had previously participated in a tailor-made training programme to improve their presentation skills and refine their business plans.
Magrid won the top prize of 75,000 euros in the general category. The start-up may use the extra money to expand to other countries, develop more products for different educational needs, or explore tools that can also be used by older children and young people – aspirations that Pazouki had previously shared with Silicon Luxembourg.
Other winners include Cellugy (ecoFLEXY), a Danish biotech start-up that fights plastic pollution by replacing single-use plastic (1st prize in the special category); Orange Fiber, an Italian company that produces patented sustainable fabrics from citrus by-products to develop high-quality fabrics for the luxury fashion sector (2nd Prize in the General Category as well as the Audience Award); and the Institut für Inklusive Bildung (Germany), which develops educational programmes delivered by people with disabilities (2nd Prize in the Special Category).
“These innovative projects will contribute to making the society we live in fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable”, said EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix, who presided the tournament, “we are more than a financier, we are a supporter of entrepreneurs, ideas and different expertise.” The finalists of all SIT editions become members of the SIT Alumni Network, which allows members to benefit, for example, from numerous training opportunities to network with investors, venture philanthropists, and foundations that can support their project in scaling.
Competitions such as SIT2021 are important to create more awareness of existing social projects and their benefits to society so that they receive more recognition and support.