Innovations for an equal future

Wellbeing and welfare start with learning. Finland is famous for its equal approach to education and the economic, social and mental welfare it creates. However, education is inherited just like height and weight. 4% of university graduates have parents with basic education, whereas 45% have parents with university degrees. And it’s difficult to dream of something you don’t see – whether it’s being a crane operator, a drone pilot or a toy designer.

Svenska folkskolans vänner has decided to help children to defy predictions and thrive beyond them!

SFV Start! Challenge seeks social innovations to help all children and young people thrive in their lives regardless of their background. We are looking for new solutions that tackle inequalities so that everyone has a chance to reach their full learning potential. The inequalities also affect the lives of children and youth in the Swedish speaking language group in Finland and the solutions need to be applicable to these communities. The innovations could be new services, new teaching methods or pedagogical approaches or for instance solutions based on innovative forms of cooperation between actors.




What is the SFV Start Challenge?

This challenge seeks social innovations to help all children and young people (0–20 years of age) thrive by learning. We are looking for solutions to overcome the growing inequality in the chance to learn and pursue education.

The solutions may relate to any area of life, such as school, work life, home environment and free time and may target one or more relevant actors, such as students directly, parents, coaches and community.



  • By the chance to learn and reach far in education we refer to the level of education a young person thinks is possible for themselves and is able to achieve.
  • Inequality may arise due to, for instance, socioeconomic differences between young people and their families, lack of suitable role models, differences in the quality of education due to location and available resources of the educational institutes.
  • Solutions could be but are not limited to new services, technological solutions and applications, community interventions, school models and solutions based on new forms of cooperation between actors. We are looking for diversity of ideas in the applications.



Key numbers

12 teams admitted to the competition

Each admitted team receives 1000 EUR as a seed fund for the experimentation phase in the acceleration

During the semifinals 6 teams are picked to proceed to the final

The winning team gets 100 000 EUR to further develop and implement the solution

SFV will evaluate the impact of the winning concept at a later stage


Who can apply?

  • The SFV Start! is open for everyone to apply. Participation in the challenge is done as a team, which must have at least three members or parties. There is no maximum team size. Team members can be organizations or natural persons.
  • Team members can reside anywhere in the world, however at least one of the team members must be a Finnish resident or citizen and be familiar with the Finnish education system.
  • At least one of the team members must either be a non-profit registered association or foundation, state/municipal public actor or private person. Other team members can be private persons, a registered company or freely any form of legal actors whatsoever. We are looking for versatile teams with diverse expertise, experiences and backgrounds.
  • Applications can be submitted in Swedish, Finnish or English. The team has to be able to participate in the acceleration phase in English. Support will be available to ensure that language will not be a hindrance of the team.

What kind of solution can win? 

  • Impact potential: The solution addresses inequalities in the chance to learn and thus support children and young people’s ability to reach their education potential. The solution reaches the target group(s) and is motivating for its target group(s). The solution has to be applicable to the Swedish speaking language group in Finland but can well benefit other language groups and nationalities as well.
  • Novelty: The solution introduces a new way to tackle the problem that is better than the currently existing solutions. It may combine or apply an existing solution or solutions in a novel way. 
  • Adaptability, feasibility and viability: The solution is adaptable and relevant to different kinds of contexts and environments in Finland and could be feasibly implemented and potentially scaled. The solution can be maintained with a reasonable economic effort even after the prize money has been used up. The team has relevant skills and experience to carry out the solution.
  • Co-creation & testing: The solution has been developed, co-created and tested with the groups relevant to the solution involving at least the Finnish-Swedish community (e.g. in a Swedish-speaking educational institutions or bilingual municipality).

The jury

Liliane Kjellman
Service Area Director, Education Division
City of Turku
Mona Eid
Board member
Ruskeat Tytöt association
Alexandra Wegelius
Swedish-Speaking School-Student Union of Finland
Olli Alanen
Executive Director
The Children and Youth Foundation
Venla Bernelius
University of Helsinki
Antti Korhonen

The competition journey


Preparation & Submission
by June 23, noon EEST


Sept 1 to Oct 13

Semifinals &

Dec 2, Jan 28


Preparation & Submission

Familiarize yourself with the challenge, the full terms and conditions and dig deep into the problems surrounding inequality in education. Assemble and organize your winning team. Before submitting your application we encourage you to participate in the clinics where we can answer any questions and provide support in your application. The next net based clinic will take place on May 27th 2021.

Register for the application clinic

Submit your application on time, by June 23, 2021 noon (12:00) EEST at the latest. The jury will then select and notify the 12 participating teams. These teams will be publicly announced by the end of August 2021.

Acceleration phase

The journey of the finalists begins on September 1st 2021, when the teams will meet and get to know the SFV association. After that teams will be supported in developing, testing and experimenting their ideas during a bootcamp held September 15-16 and a workshop arranged on October 13, 2021. This support will help develop the teams’ ideas and move them toward a real, implementable solution.

Semifinals & Finals

During the semifinals held on December 2nd 2021, 6 teams are chosen to continue in the competition. They will be further supported with developing their solutions in a workshop on January 11 2022. The competition final is held on January 28 2022. There, the teams will present the finalized solutions to the jury. The jury retrieves and the winners are announced on February 17 2022 at the closing ceremony.

This is when the winners’ work really begins: they will use the prize money to implement and scale their solutions.


See the application form

The link to the full rules


Helén Marton / Demos Helsinki
+358 40 184 68 56
Niklas Wahlström / SFV
+358 50-548 2100


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