Skip to main content

Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation

Periodic Report Summary 1 - CRESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation)

Project Context and Objectives:
The CRESSI (CReating Economic Space for Social Innovation) Project explores the economic underpinnings of social innovation, with a particular focus on how policy and practice can enhance the lives of the most marginalized and disempowered citizens in society. The four year project was initiated in February 2014. It has already resulted in the publication of a series of working papers based on project deliverables, which are all publicly available on the CRESSI website ( http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/cressi ).

Overall, the CRESSI project takes an institutionalist view of the key issues when exploring the drivers and structures that lead to marginalization and disempowerment. This research also aims to set out how interventions drawing on social innovation can address major economic, social and power imbalances and inequalities. The project draws upon three interlinked strands of theory to provide an overarching conceptual framework: Beckert’s social grid model; Sen’s capabilities approach; and Mann’s analysis of institutional power structures and their enactments.

The main research work packages focus on: establishing an economic theory and context for social innovation across the EU; contextualizing social innovation within established research and practice on technological innovation; exploring emergent social innovation ecosystems and lifecycles; setting out effective policy agendas and instruments for fostering social innovation; and establishing good practice metrics for capturing the impact of social innovation.

The conceptual and theoretical elements of the project will be tested and revised with a rigorous programme of empirical data collection and analyses. This will encompass qualitative case studies and linked quantitative analyses, with a focus on key topic areas across several EU Member States that can inform the EU-wide (including European Commission) debates on building smart economies that reduce inequality and socio-economic marginalisation.

In addition, discrete work packages focus on the overall management of the project and the dissemination of its key findings and contributions.
Project Results:
The CRESSI project brings together eight partners, from seven EU countries:

1) UOXF: University of Oxford (UK)
2) EMAUG: The University of Greifswald (Germany)
3) TU Delft: Delft University of Technology (Netherlands)
4) UHEI: Heidelberg University (Germany)
5) UNIPV: University of Pavia (Italy)
6) AIT: Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria)
7) UTA: University of Tampere (Finland)
8) CERS-HAS: Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary)

There are ten CRESSI work packages, including one (Work Package 9) on internal project management. In the course of this first reporting period, one work package (Work Package 1) was completely finalised and another almost completed (Work Package 2). Work on a further five work packages is currently ongoing (Work Packages 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10). Work on the remaining two work packages (Work Packages 5 and 8) will not be initiated until later in the project.

In the first 18 months of the project (1 February 2014 to 31 July 2015), CRESSI published online a series of 23 working papers, based on the completed project deliverables that were submitted to the EC (see Table 1 - attached).

In this reporting period, the main progress can be summarised as follows:

• Work Package 1 (Economics, Institutions and Social Innovation: Theory and Practice in Terms of the Vulnerable and Marginalised) was completely finalised. All Work Package 1 deliverables (D1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 and 1.5) were completed as planned and submitted to the EC. The finalised reports were published as a series of working papers on the CRESSI website (see Table 1 - attached).

• For Work Package 2 (Integrated Case-Studies - Qualitative), a case study common template was finalised in 2014 (Task 2.1). One of the Work Package deliverables (D2.1 - three comprehensive case studies) was also completely finalised and submitted to the EC. A summary from this report was also made available on the CRESSI website (see Table 2 - attached). Work on the second deliverable (D2.2) is nearing completion, with three of the four individual case studies completed during the reporting period. Thus, to date six case studies have been finalised following the common template: three comprehensive case studies (Deliverable D2.1) and three individual case studies (D2.2). The final individual case study is in the process of being revised and it is anticipated that Deliverable D2.2 will be completely finalised by the end of September 2015.

• For Work Package 3 (Measurement Approaches to Capturing Social Innovation Impact), four deliverables were completed as planned and submitted to the EC. Three of these deliverables have also been published as working papers on the CRESSI website (see Table 1 - attached): the Synthetic Grid (D3.1); a report on training material on accounting (D3.2); and a methodology - template (D3.5). It is anticipated that material from the fourth deliverable (D3.3) will be published as part of the CERS-HAS Discussion Paper series; a link will be provided to this from the CRESSI website.

• Work on Work Package 4 (Social Versus Technological Innovation) was also initiated in the reporting period and is progressing well. The first Work Package 4 deliverable, (D4.1 - Report on social versus technological innovation and their co-evolution) is expected to be completed by the end of October 2015.

• As part of the work on Work Package 6 (Policy Analysis), CRESSI held an EU seminar in London, hosted by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), on 6th May 2015 (Deliverable 6.2). A full meeting report was submitted to the EC and has also been made available on the CRESSI website (see Table 2 below). In addition, another deliverable (D6.1) was completed as planned and submitted to the EC in the reporting period, and has also been published online as a series of seven working papers (see Table 1 - attached).

• Work Package 8 (Synthesis): in advance of the initiation of this work package, work has advanced on preparing for a special issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (Deliverable D8.3). A call for papers for this special edition has been initiated, with a deadline of 15th October 2015 (link: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/ideas-impact/research-projects/cressi/news/call-papers).

• Work Package 10 (Dissemination). A newsletter regularly reports on CRESSI publications and events. To date, five CRESSI newsletters have been sent out (see: ) The CRESSI project was presented at a thematic session of the HDCA (Human Development and Capability Association) Conference in Athens (2-5 September 2014). The case study on social housing (from Work Package 2) was presented by Susanne Giesecke (AIT) at the EUSpri Network Conference (10-12 June 2015) in Helsinki and at the SASE conference (2-4 July 2015) in London. A revised version of the CRESSI approach, including first results from case studies (from Work Package 2), will be presented in several papers at the ISIRC 2015 Conference in York (6-8 September 2015). The social innovation toolkit for youth was developed in collaboration with the European Rivers Network and national partners. (For further details, see: http://en.bigjumpchallenge.net/toolbox_english.html). It is available in English, French, German and Italian and has been used by 120 teams from 28 countries. An evaluation report is planned for October 2015. A thematic group on innovation, technology and design has been started at the HDCA, and a first webinar on social housing is planned in October 2015, thereby bringing a CRESSI case study to the critical attention of the HDCA community.
Potential Impact:
In the final year of the four-year CRESSI Project, the main findings and outputs arising from all the other completed work packages will be analysed and compiled by work conducted in Work Package 8 (Synthesis), with the aim to:

• reassess the social grid conceptual framework in the light of the results of the project’s empirical work (in Work Packages 2 and 7) and to draw final conclusions regarding the creation of a fair economic space, favourable for social innovation; and
• make policy recommendations for promoting a fair economic space for social innovation.

The main anticipated outputs from this process are summarised below. Although these outputs are not planned until towards the end of the four year project (from late 2017), some progress can already be reported at this stage:

(1) Project book (Deliverable D8.1):
The project book will include the final version of the theoretical framework used in the project, incorporating Beckert’s social grid framework, the capabilities approach and Mann’s reflections upon power relations, along with the key findings of the various work packages. In the first 18 months of the project, all tasks in Work Package 1 have been completed. Taken together, these tasks provide the conceptual basis for the project as a whole, as well as the analytic frameworks with which the empirical data to be collected in the course of the project will be tested and evaluated. Later in the project, the results of the data analysis will be reflected back to enhance and extend theory development, which will form the basis for the project book.

(2) Strategic policy recommendations (Deliverable D8.2):
A second main output at the end of the project will be a set of final recommendations aimed at policy makers, civil society actors and intermediaries, differentiated according to the three levels of social innovation. In the first 18 months of the project, work has already started in engaging with policy makers (at the national and EU levels) and developing policy questions:

• On 6th May 2015, CRESSI partners at the University of Oxford held an EU level policy seminar (Deliverable D6.2) hosted by NESTA in Central London. The seminar was well attended by academics, practitioners, independent consultants and representatives from think tanks and umbrella body organisations. Prior to the event, confirmed delegates were sent a summary of the material to be covered during the seminar and were asked to consider a core set of questions pertaining to CRESSI’s research programme, in particular the work to be undertaken as part of Work Package 6.

• In March 2015, CRESSI published a Policy Brief (Deliverable D1.4) on “CRESSI’s approach to social innovation: lessons for Europe 2020” (downloadable here: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/research-projects/CRESSI/docs/CRESSI_Working_Paper_13_D1.4_16Mar2015.pdf). The Policy Brief has since been widely disseminated via Social Innovation Europe (see: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/socialinnovationeurope/en , and sent to relevant practitioners and stakeholders within the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Social Inclusion in the European Commission. Positive feedback and dialogue has been received from the Director of Europe 2020: Social Policies (Dr Lieve Fransen), the Director of Social Protection and Activation Systems (Ralf Jacob) and from the Director of Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction (Stefan Olsson).

(3) A Special Issue of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (Deliverable D8.3):
It is anticipated that the special issue, which will specifically focus on social innovation and capabilities, will be published in Autumn 2017. In the first 18 months of this project, good progress has been made towards this goal. It has been agreed that this special issue will explore the conceptual foundations of social innovation from a human development perspective, with a specific focus on those social innovations aimed to improve the capabilities of marginalized and disempowered groups. A call for papers for the special issue has been initiated, with a deadline of 15th October 2015 (see: http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/ideas-impact/research-projects/cressi/news/call-papers).

List of Websites:
www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/cressi