Social innovations are new ideas that meet social needs, create social relationships and form new collaborations. These innovations can be products, services or models addressing unmet needs more effectively. The European Commission's objective is to encourage market uptake of innovative solutions and stimulate employment.
The Commission’s actions on social innovation stem from the Innovation Union initiative (2010) and of the Social Investment Package (2013). These actions facilitate the inducement, uptake and scaling-up of social innovation solutions. The main objectives are
- promoting social innovation as a source of growth and jobs
- sharing information about social innovation in Europe
- supporting innovative entrepreneurs and mobilising investors and public organisations.
What the Commission does on social innovation
- Networking - we help organisations across Europe to connect, learn from each other, and share experiences through the Social Innovation Community portal.
- Competition - every year we organise the European Social Innovation Competition to source and support new solutions to societal challenges, and thereby raise awareness about social innovation. Other European contests also support social innovators, such as the RegioStars Awards, and the Social Innovation Tournament.
- Funding - we offer direct funding to support social innovation through the Employment and Social Innovation Programme, Horizon 2020, particularly under the SME Instrument which is open to social enterprises, or the Collective Awareness Platforms. Social innovation may also be funded in your country or region under the EU structural and investment funds - Guide to Social Innovation (5 MB). Moreover, the Commission also offers seed funding for the development of innovative ideas that address social challenges through the Social Challenges Platform.
- Ecosystems - we improve the conditions for social innovation and social enterprises in Europe, also to attract private investors. Learn about the Social Business Initiative and the Start-Up & Scale-Up Initiative. They build on the conclusions of an external expert group (GECES) and a mapping of social enterprises' ecosystems in each of the 28 EU countries.
- Impact - we gather and disseminate evidence about the benefits of social innovation and methodologies for result measurement. See the report Strengthening social innovation in Europe Journey to effective assessment and metrics (2012), the work on social impact (2 MB) completed within the Social Business Initiative or research projects carried out for that purpose.
- Incubation - we support incubation structures for social innovation in Europe, through EU-wide networks of incubators such as Transition and Benisi.
- Exploring - we look for new ideas, applications or fields for social innovation – see for instance this Paper on social innovation and open manufacturing (2015), this Paper on Collaborative economy with a social purpose (2016).
Our projects on social innovation
- Social innovation community – stay in touch on Twitter @SICommunity_EU and Facebook @SICommunityEU
- European Social Innovation Competition - stay in touch on Twitter @EUSocialInnov (#diogochallenge)
- This is European social innovation
- Empowering people, driving change – Social Innovation in the European Union (2010) (2MB)
- Social innovation, a decade of change (BEPA, 2014) (2MB)
Get in touch
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