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The Social Impact Award (SIA) is the largest international initiative dedicated to social entrepreneurship of the youth, which was launched in 2009 by Impact Hub Vienna, in partnership with the Erste Foundation and the University of Economics and Business in Vienna. The project takes place simultaneously on three continents (Europe, Africa and Asia) and more precisely in 19 countries. It gathers more than 12,000 young innovators every year and promotes the establishment of more than 230 social enterprises per year.

SIA’s goal is to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship among young people, as well as to support (social) entrepreneurs through a series of events and workshops. Moreover, by hastening the development and application of innovative business ideas in the early stages, it enables solutions to social problems. SIA provides both mentoring and financial support.

The program is intended for young people aged 15 to 30, who can apply as individuals or as part of a team (up to five people), who want to start a social enterprise, or who have an idea for solving various problems in the local community or at the national level.

Our team of four bioinformaticians (Krsto, Katarina, Selle and Marco) participated in the SIA competition in Montenegro. The whole experience lasted from March to October. It included an incubation phase during which we worked together with a mentor to further develop our “Bioinforming” idea, a final pitching event and an award ceremony. Our team won the jury prize consisting of further mentoring, 1500 EUR and the opportunity to participate in the SIA global summit in Vienna (15-19th November 2022).

The SIA summit in Vienna is conceived as a festival with five main formats: skills, labs, peer-to-peer, community, and expeditions. Through these formats, participants hear and learn more about financial planning, fundraising, public pitching, CSR, climate, social impact, building the team, and many more topics necessary for managing impactful social ventures.

Our “Bioinforming” project focuses on providing free educational content in bioinformatics to interested young students from all social backgrounds. By mentoring a new generation of bioinformaticians, our goal is to promote innovation and economic development in Montenegro. More precisely, the idea is to offer one-week summer training schools to show the participants the most relevant topics in bioinformatics and stimulate their curiosity. Moreover, we create educational blog posts in bioinformatics and science in general for the lay public and mentor interested students on their career paths.

With this opportunity, the Bioinform team acquired the necessary skills to proceed in the development of its initiatives and in the next future new training schools will take place also thanks to the support of SIA.