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SI-DRIVE Report Summary

Project ID: 612870
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 2 - SI-DRIVE (Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social Change)

Project Context and Objectives:
SI-DRIVE extends knowledge about Social Innovation (SI) in three major directions:
• Integrating theories and research methodologies to advance understanding of Social Innovation leading to a comprehensive new paradigm of innovation.
• Undertaking European and global mapping of Social Innovation, thereby addressing different social, economic, cultural, and historical contexts in eight major world regions.
• Ensuring relevance for policy makers and practitioners through in-depth analyses and case studies in seven policy fields (Education, Employment, Environment, Energy, Mobility and Transport, Health and Social Care, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development), with cross European and world region comparisons, foresight and policy round tables.
SI-DRIVE is a global project involving all in all 25 partners from all world continents: 15 partners from 12 EU Member States and 10 partners from other parts of the world. The complexity of the topic requires an iterative and cyclic approach characterised by three main pillars and principles:
• First, cyclical iteration between theory development, methodological improvements, and policy recommendations.
• Second, two mapping exercises at European and global level. Initial mapping captures basic information about 1,005 actual social innovations from a wide variety of sources worldwide, leading to a typology of SI and using this to examine the global SI distribution. Subsequent mapping uses these well documented SI, leading to the selection of 82 cases for in-depth analysis in the seven policy fields.
• Third, these case studies will be further analysed, used in stakeholder dialogues (policy and foresight workshops) in seven policy field platforms and in analysis of cross-cutting dimensions (e.g. gender, diversity, ICT), carefully taking into account cross-sector relevance (private, public, civil sectors), and future impact.
The outcomes of SI-DRIVE cover a broad range of research dimensions, impacting particularly in terms of changing society, improving its empowerment, and contributing to the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
In a nutshell, scientific research, interactive communication with relevant networks of stakeholders and communities, the analysis of pertinent policy areas and concluding recommendations for policies and practice, will be guided by the following four objectives and expected outcomes:
• To determine the nature, characteristics and impacts of social innovation as key elements of a new paradigm of innovation (strengthen the theoretical and empirical base of social innovation as part of a wider concept of innovation that thoroughly integrates social dimensions)
• To map, analyse and promote social innovations in Europe and world regions to better understand and enable social innovations and their capacity for changing and better acting societies
• To identify and assess success factors of SI in the seven particular policy areas, supporting reciprocal empowerment in various countries and social groups to engage in SI for development, working towards Europe 2020 targets and sustainable development (e.g. Millenium Development Goals)
• To undertake future-oriented policy-driven research, analyse barriers and drivers for SI; develop approaches for policy interventions (policy recommendations).
Project Results:
The theoretical and methodological ground (Critical Literature Review, Methodology Review D1.1) defined the tools for the empirical phase I and indicated the structure of the reporting: external database analysis, policy field and regional reporting (seven Policy Field Reports D4.1-10.4), Regional Report D3.6), global mapping of 1,005 social innovation cases all over the world (Comparative Analysis D1.4), policy and foresight workshops (eight EU Policy Briefs D12.3), cross policy field analysis (Compilation Report D3.4). Beneath Theory and Methodology a first Policy Framework for the third pillar of SI-DRIVE (Policy) was also developed as well as a Policy and Foresight Workshop and Round Table Concept.
The first major step of SI-DRIVE was a critical literature review setting a theoretical frame for the following empirical research on Social Innovation. Keeping in mind that there is no sustained and systematic analysis of social innovation and its relationship to transformative social change yet, this review was an important step to define the research propositions for SI-DRIVE, namely
• a first comprehensive definition of Social Innovation going beyond a pure social entrepreneurship orientation
• the elaboration of five key dimensions of social innovation that fundamentally affect the potential of social innovations, their scope, and their impact
• the development of eight research foci
• the combination of similar initiatives (micro level) in an overarching practice field (meso level).

The Critical Literature Review was based on the analysis of three theoretical building blocks. Starting from a general innovation perspective, the relationship between social innovation and social change was approached by these three building blocks under which diverse theoretical and conceptual approaches can be subsumed:
1. Theories of social change focusing on practice theory, institutionalisation and development theories
2. Theoretical approaches in the different fields of social innovation research (social entrepreneurship, social economy, local and regional development, design thinking, development studies)
3. Innovations studies including science and technology studies (STS), management and business innovations.
In parallel a methodology review was undertaken (D2.1 Research Propositions and Social Innovation Typology, Data collection and Analysis Framework) as well as a first Policy Framework development for social innovation (D11.1). The first methodological review (D2.1) depicts the framework for research propositions and the intended social innovation typology (part A), the review of the main methodologies and methods as a basis for data collection and analysis (part B), and the tools and guidelines for the first empirical research phase (part C).
The baseline framework (for Theory, Methodology, and Policy) was improved by the results of the first empirical phase and extended by verifying existing Social Theories in reference to Social Innovation and its Relationship to Social Change (D1.3) - developing a set of mechanisms of change, which were consequently used as an analysis tool for mapping 2 (in-depth case studies, results of this second empirical phase are available in 2017).
The results of the first empirical research phase demonstrate the need for social innovation to overcome societal challenges and social demands. In every policy field we find a high diversity of social needs and societal challenges taken up by social innovation initiatives, not limited to one but often working across several policy fields. Beside the already mentioned deliverables the Comparative Analysis (D1.4) of the 1,005 mapped social innovations worldwide has to be highlighted, with already high resonances in a wider scientific community, comprising a sound empirical ground based on the first world-wide mapping and giving exciting insights into the highly diverse world of social innovation, the variety of actors and their interaction, and the complexity of the ongoing innovation processes. It shows that social innovation has become a ubiquitous concept driven by problems and complex innovation processes, often depending on individuals but more and more also embedded in social innovation ecosystems.
The main results based on the first empirical phase of SI-DRIVE at a glance:
1. Social needs and societal challenges are the focus and driver of Social Innovation
2. Social innovations in a sense of new practices appear in a variety of forms and concepts and high dynamics appear
3. Manifold actors and cross sector collaborations are the emerging backbone of the initiatives
4. Empowerment and user involvement are a core element
5. Complexity of the innovation processes needs different modes of governance
6. Social Innovation Ecosystems are emerging
7. Different levels of intervention are necessary
8. Practice Field approach helps to combine social innovations
9. Resources and barriers are manifold: Framework conditions and enabling factors still need to be developed
10. Social Innovation Initiatives - driven by problems and depending on individuals!
The results of the global mapping reveal the importance of social innovation addressing social, economic, political and environmental challenges of the 21st century on a global scale. At the same time there is an increased awareness of the dimension of the challenges modern societies are facing and the complexity of innovation processes needed. Like technological innovations, successful social innovations are based on a lot of presuppositions and require appropriate infrastructures and resources. Moreover, social innovations are requiring specific conditions because they aim at activating, fostering, and utilizing the innovation potential of the whole society.
It is not only a matter of appropriate funding but also of new participation and collaboration structures, co-creation and user involvement, empowerment and human resources development. Attention has to be paid to the invention and its development as well as its diffusion and imitation. From this innovation process and development perspective, resources, capabilities and constraints, drivers and barriers are not only relevant for the invention and implementation, but also for scaling and diffusion of successful innovations.
The mapping demonstrates that social innovation processes and the underlying resources, capabilities and constraints are also very much related to the actors of the different sectors of the social innovation ecosystem. This includes a new role of public policy and government for creating suitable framework and support structures, the integration of resources of the economy and civil society as well as supporting measures by science and universities (e.g. education for social innovation performance, know-how transfer).
Given the strong need for social innovation highlighted by the various policy field experts, one of the most important insights of the mapping is that a social innovation friendly environment still has to be developed in Europe and on a global scale.
The policy implications discussed in the first round of Policy and Foresight Forums 2015 and the International Roundtable 2016 (see EU Policy Briefs) identified policy actions to create a cross-sectoral ecosystem that fosters and unlock the potential of social innovation, empower citizen engagement, and evaluate where and how upscaling is possible. Current political environments still have great difficulty in finding the right balanced support for Social Innovation, therefore a flexible and adaptive policy approach is requested, combining bottom-up processes with a limited degree of regulation and support – not keeping sustainable Social Innovation to the responsibility of policy makers alone. Supporting Social Innovation requires considerable funds, the right knowledge, capacity building, specific funding possibilities, and innovative environment and support structures. A long-term policy approach is needed to first, understand the patterns and context conditions of Social Innovation, and, second, to develop a differentiated approach to fostering Social Innovation in a network of public, private and civil actors and stakeholders. As the current SI-DRIVE research results show, Social Innovation is a multidimensional phenomenon, not easily channelled into standards and policies; and: Social innovators are wary of top-down support measures, but they are at the same time quite dependent on financial and other institutional support.
Dissemination activities have been ongoing since the launch of the project, on a global, European and national level. A webpage was designed and published as well as quarterly eNewsletters. SI-DRIVE started its work by cooperating intensively with other relevant SI projects (namely TEPSIE, TRANSIT, SIMPACT, and CRESSI), social innovation platforms (namely SIX, SIE, EUWIN) and SI incubators (BENISI, TRANSITION). Partners of SI-DRIVE are also engaged in the Social Innovation Community (SIC) project. Therefore, SI-DRIVE is not only well connected in the social innovation community but continuously working together with the main actors all over the world. For instance, SI-DRIVE took the chance of a first common conference “SI LIVE bringing together Social Innovation - Research, Incubation and Action” (November 2014 in Lisbon) and conducted its intermediary international conference “Pathways for Social Change” in Vienna 2015 as a joint venture with TRANSIT, CRESSI, SIMPACT and Net4Society, bringing together 320 participants from 44 countries around the world. A theory building forum ( and policy platforms ( have been started.
Potential Impact:
The last phase of the iterative research process of SI-DRIVE is aiming at the analysis of the in-depth case studies and the finalisation of Theory, Methodology and Policy. The second empirical phase is based on the results of the previous one and the improved theoretical and methodological framework, deepening the theoretical foundations of the concept of social innovation by carrying out case studies in seven major policy areas, covering Europe and eight major world regions. The policy field related analyses and the overarching comparative analysis will inform (additionally to the results of the first global mapping) the final outcomes of Social Innovation Theory and Methodology (further elaboration of the concept and a typology of social innovation) as well as the second round of Policy and Foresight Workshops and the second International Policy Round Table leading to final Policy Recommendations. The purpose of this second stage analysis is to explore key issues that are pertinent to the support/success or detriment/failure of the cases and to start exploring possible trends and drivers that will shape the future of social innovation in the respective areas.
Using the inputs of preliminary studies and our theoretical and empirical results, we will provide a comprehensive architecture for understanding and discussing social innovation concepts, processes and impact. This framework is unique in its explicit consideration of different dimensions of social innovation. It will also deliver a typology of social innovations and elaborate a theoretically sound understanding of social innovation. We also will be engaged with leading international scholars in order to compare scaling and learning patterns of social innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa.
SI-DRIVE is confident to produce results and outcomes with positive and long-lasting effects, contributing to the EU2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. A clearer perception of social innovation and understanding of its importance will help driving change and shaping future societies. Therefore, SI-DRIVE will cooperate with and help to better connect the world-wide SI community within a European approach:
1. advance the knowledge base that underpins the formulation and implementation of relevant policies enhancing the sustainable impact of social innovation;
2. achieve a critical mass of collaboration, networking and mobility of researchers;
3. involve relevant communities, stakeholders, and practitioners in the research, with a view to reinforcing inclusive and sustainable growth in line with the goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the Innovation Union flagship.
In many respects the work done in SI-DRIVE has direct or indirect implications for (social) innovation policy, and also for policy in the seven fields of application which are investigated separately in WPs 4-10. Taking into account the many-faceted collaborative environments on which the mapped SI cases are based (interrelating the functioning of markets, public administrations, civil society and the role of research), the further theory development feeding into policy dialogue at the EU-level will provide a basis for policy makers in order to develop ‘sound policies’ in the following ways:
• Building blocks for a new paradigm of innovation: Theoretical and empirical basics of SI as part of a wider concept of innovation, moving to an SI general theory enabling fruitful research and learning in practice across world regions
• Promotion of social innovation in Europe and world regions, using SI and its capacity to change societies through stakeholder networks of scientists, policy makers, practitioners and citizens, which also complement non-SI initiatives
• Guidance to implement conditions of effective SI, particularly favouring reciprocal empowerment of citizens of various countries and social groups. Key criteria of success are the targets of Europe 2020 and sustainable development according to the MDGs (and renewed goals after 2015). Spread of knowledge about success factors will essentially expedite funding, diffusion and up-scaling of SI.
• An overview of the ubiquitous world of Social Innovation gathered in an Atlas of Social Innovation. The Atlas will provide an overview of various types of social innovation in different world regions and policy areas (education, employment, environment and climate change, energy supply, transport and mobility, health and social care, and poverty reduction and sustainable development) delivering new intelligence on the diversity of social innovation approaches in different parts of the world used by practitioners, researchers and policy makers, reflecting the diversity, broadness and usability of Social Innovation, proving the variety of actors and their interaction and exploring the systemic character and concept of social innovation.
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Related information


Esther Rahma, (Financial Officer)
Tel.: +49 231 755 2366
Fax: +49 231 755 2756
Record Number: 199748 / Last updated on: 2017-06-21
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