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European Technological and Social Innovation Factory (RIA)


Our society is changing. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how quickly society can adapt and bounce back and has underlined how urgent it was for European industry to reinvent itself and increase its resilience. Social innovation holds the potential to support the industry in this transition, especially when linked to technological innovation. Social innovations can contribute to progress and innovation in all areas and change the way all actors in society interact. They appear in new products, services, methods, business models, production processes or new forms of cooperation. They do things differently and involve academia, industry, public authorities, and civil society. Linking the industry with social innovation would thus support the creation of a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society and of a dynamic industrial innovation ecosystem while allowing the industry to undertake its transition in a sustainable and fair way.

This topic concerns the generation of innovations that combine technological and social innovation and engage industry and society to serve the EU’s priorities. It will provide social innovators with financial and capacity building support to develop their ideas into concrete solutions enabling businesses to transform towards more resilience, sustainability and inclusion. It will also promote a new European culture of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Projects should:

  • Set up an inclusive mechanism to harvest social innovation ideas. They should issue calls for ideas that are business and industry driven, providing innovative solutions improving the resilience and preparedness of EU businesses in EU policy priority areas and are bottom-up in their approach, involving users and citizens. The following eligibility criterions should be used:
    1. serving at least one EU priority,
    2. combining technological and social innovation,
    3. engaging society and industry,
    4. demonstrated market knowledge and market demand for the solution;
    5. offering an innovative solution.
  • Ensure a broad dissemination of the calls to reach out to local social innovators with the support, for instance, of the national competence centres for social innovation funded under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
  • Select approximately 30 of the best entries, using announced eligibility criterions to rank entries. They should award approximately €100000.
  • Turn these ideas into pre-market demonstration projects through a process of co-design and co-development, engaging civil society; start-ups, SMEs, mid-caps, and large corporations; academia; public authorities; philanthropists; impact financiers, etc. to the extent appropriate. The consortium should have extensive knowledge in business incubation to be able to provide capacity-building support. Synergies with the ongoing EU funded projects on Incubators for inclusive and social entrepreneurship are encouraged.
  • Monitor the testing of the pre-market demonstration projects to demonstrate and document that the social innovation achieves investment grade.
  • Help pre-market demonstration projects to find investors through the portfolio of activities (e.g. matchmaking events, dragon-pitches, auctions, etc.) that they consider best suited.

Two thirds of the EU contribution should go to awards to selected entries and to the financing of pre-market demonstration projects.

Applicants are encouraged to envisage additional sources of financing.

Applicants should envisage, as appropriate, clustering activities with other ongoing and future social innovation projects funded under Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe projects for, inter-alia, cross-project co-operation, consultations and knowledge exchange, joint activities on crosscutting issues as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. Applicants should plan the necessary budget to cover those activities without the prerequisite to define concrete common actions at this stage.