Social Innovation: 7 practical steps to promote it at regional level

 Europe 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy for the coming decade. In a changing world,  the EU wants to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. These three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.

Concretely, the Union has set five ambitious objectives – on employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy – to be reached by 2020. Each Member State has adopted its own national targets in each of these areas. Concrete actions at EU and national and regional levels underpin the strategy.

In this framework, social innovation can be a powerful tool to meet those objectives. Regional authorities can orchestrate the efforts. They can take a lead in promoting social innovation, provide funds, bring various stakeholders together, put forward strategic thinking and support the generation of fresh ideas to overcome societal and social challenges.

The following are some areas where support to social innovation at regional level could achieve a good return according to the European Guide for Social Innovation.

Social innovation: 7 practical steps to promote it at regional level

  1. Preparing a strategy and action plan for social innovation that is linked to the region’s smart specialisation strategy;
  2. Building capacity for social innovation by supporting new organisations and adapting existing organisations. This might involve supporting independent third sector agencies for social innovation as well as setting up units within the public sector. There is also a role for training in new methods of idea generation, problematizing and in financial models;
  3. Strengthening the market for social innovations and encouraging cross sectoral collaborations by using the power of public procurement to encourage innovative and cross sectoral approaches;
  4. Supporting the innovators to get started and to grow through business support measures and by encouraging workplace innovation;
  5. Investing in new financing models for each stage of the innovation process and specifically for financing pilots, implementations and scaling up. Exploring how new financial instruments might support results based approaches (e.g. along the lines of social impact bonds or payment by results models);
  6. Setting up better structures for measuring the results of social innovation, for evaluation, benchmarking and comparison of existing and proposed policies and projects;
  7. Promoting exchange and learning on approaches to social innovation across Europe.

I am exploring all these strategies in depth, especially the one related to investing in new financing models. Do you have an example you want to share? Do you have other ideas of how social innovation can be promoted at regional level?

Share it below and I will expand the articles with your contribution.

Thanks in advance!