BENISI UPDATE: BeeOdiversity rewarded as promising scaling social innovation
19 November 2014 - Will Cardy

On the 14th of November the BENISI project organized its first SIAN Award ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal. It took place during the SI-Live event, which brought together leading social innovators, academics and practitioners to discuss and explore the future agenda for social innovation. BENISI is glad to announce the winner: BeeOdiversity

The Social Innovation Accelerators Network Award aims at honoring a social innovator who has successfully used BENISI resources during the scaling up process and has the internal capacities to scale up successfully its societal impact. Five finalists had the unique opportunity to present their social innovation in front of a representation of SIAN members. The winner has been elected via a vote of SIAN members and will be able to benefit from exposure of the European Commission communication channels, as from the BENISI network of partners. This results in an extra boost for BeeOdiversity credibility and visibility.


Photo (from left to right): Vincent De Conick { I-propeller and Coordinator of BENISI}, Michael Van Custem {Co-founder of BeeOdiversity}, Alberto Masetti-Zannini {Development Director Impact Hub King's Cross, Founder and Director Impact Hub Milano}BeeOdiversity Sprl was created in 2012 by four participants of the Executive Master in Management at Solvay. Dr. Bach Kim Nguyen, the project initiator, is a world expert in bees and biodiversity. He is a professor at the University of Liège and a member of numerous national and international committees. Olivier le Hodey, Emmanuel Lion and Michael van Cutsem, who have a business and entrepreneurial background, joined him in 2012. All of them share the same passion for social entrepreneurship. Together, they aspire that BeeOdiversity becomes, through its partners, a company that has a real local impact on honey bees, biodiversity, food diversity and on the society.

BeeOdiversity develops and advises projects which aim at regenerating and preserving biodiversity and bees with an innovative, global and scientific approach. It also strives to involve all the concerned actors and raise their awareness to the issue and the solutions. BeeOdiversity’s objective in 2015 is to do so on minimum 10% of the surface of Belgium and to become the main local actor for the preservation of biodiversity with the support of companies, public institutions, individuals, farmers, beekeepers and scientists.

BeeOdiversity grows bee colonies (300 up to know) that it places in different zones in order to develop biodiversity. 1 bee colony pollinates up to 700 ha which represents per year: 4 billion flowers, 1.320.000 kg of apples, 800.000 kg of pears, 128.000 kg of cherries, etc. They also proposes a sophisticated biodiversity dashboard based on the information gathered by its bees. The dashboard enables BeeOdiversity to monitor the environment and its evolution and to advise on proper measures to be taken for a better ecosystem.

Within BENISI they benefitted from a scale-up coaching from OksigenLab (consortium partner of the BENISI project) to strengthen their business model and societal impact. The organization is on a very good way to scale operations in Belgium and in EU countries within the next 12 months.

Michael Van Cutsem, the Co-founder of BeeOdiversity, presented the project in Lisbon and sees the SIAN Award as “a great opportunity to find new partners and meet representatives from the European Commission”. “BeeOdiversity has develop a monitoring tool which could offer a good indicator for environmental projects funded by the EU”. He also hopes to “scale up further and to have greater impact on the environment”. Moreover, Van Cutsem thinks that the SIAN Award “was a very good opportunity to see where we stand” and he is happy to see that ”the project has an added value and can really trigger a global change”

BENISI also congratulates the other four finalists, which have contributed to a dynamic exchange of experiences.


About the other finalists:

  •  Three Coins develops online tools that teach teenagers to responsibly deal with money.
  • Charity Stars is the first celebrities’ auction platform for the charity sector in Europe.
  • Two Fingers Brewing Co. is the only beer brand that gives back to the men that drink it, by giving all profits to prostate cancer charities.
  • MOD More organ donation is an organization that wants to reduce transplant waiting lists in Sweden.



BENISI is a European funded project that seeks to build a Europe-wide network of incubators for social innovation. This network will proactively identify at least 300 social innovations that are identified with high potential for scaling successfully. Within BENISI, a larger network called SIAN Social Innovation Accelerators Network was created. SIAN members act as catalyzers of the BENISI project’s scaling activities, by putting at the disposal of the social innovators their ability to access to finance, skills and connections. The BENISI project is supported by the European Commission within the framework of the FP7 Research and Innovation Programme.