CORDIS - EU research results

Digital Social Innovation for Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DSI4EU (Digital Social Innovation for Europe)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-05-31

Across Europe, there are thousands of people, projects and organisations using open and social technologies to tackle social challenges, in areas ranging from migration to healthcare and democratic participation to education. We call this phenomenon digital social innovation (DSI).

Between 2016 and 2017, the Digital Social Innovation for Europe project (DSI4EU) mapped, explored and supported the DSI community to become better networked and ultimately to increase its impact. As part of the CAPS programme, DSI4EU engaged with CAPS projects but also supported the wider DSI constituency of projects, policymakers, researchers and citizens.

At the heart of the project is the platform, which has four main functions.

Users can:
* showcase their work and tag their organisations as part of networks like research alliances or membership bodies.
* explore the DSI community and search organisations and projects to understand what else is going on in the world of DSI, who they need to be speaking to, and who might be a potential partner or collaborator.
* identify funding and support opportunities, along with DSI-related events, across Europe. They can also submit and promote their own event to the DSI community.
* learn about what is happening across Europe through case studies and blogs focusing on DSI pioneers and their projects, and current trends.

All of the data on the platform is open and accessible, and all the source code behind the platform is available open-source on GitHub. The platform is free to use. Although the DSI4EU project has now come to a close, the platform is still live and we continue to actively engage projects and organisations and to add content to the platform.

Alongside the platform, the DSI4EU project:

* researched what the DSI landscape in Europe looks like and gained an understanding of routes to growth and scale (and associated barriers), whilst exploring how DSI projects and organisations understand their impact. The findings of this research are published in our report What next for digital social innovation? Realising the potential of people and technology to tackle social challenges, published in May 2017.
* held a number of events across Europe to bring together the DSI community and influence policy, including meetings with high-level representatives from the European Commission and a major event, What next for digital social innovation?, in May 2017 attended by 200 people from across (and beyond) the continent.
* developed a set of policy recommendations to support DSI and engaged actively with policymakers.
* carried out an experimental training programme with practitioners and created a set of tools to support digital social innovators, especially those involved in the open hardware movement.

DSI4EU was led by a consortium of Nesta (UK), Waag Society (NL) and SUPSI (CH).
DSI4EU consisted of three main work packages alongside the project management work package.

Work Package 1 redeveloped the website into a community hub where innovators and others interested in DSI could search projects, identify potential collaborators, and find funding, support and event opportunities. Alongside this, we maintained an active blog featuring news stories, opinion pieces and interviews, and a collection of case studies of DSI in different social areas. In April 2017 we launched an interactive data visualisation of the website’s database, which allowed people to visualise their own and others’ networks and to more easily digest the information in the database. The website and data visualisation are open-source, so that others can build upon them and repurpose the foundations for their own purposes as necessary. Over the course of the project, we grew the database to almost 2,000 organisations and over 1,000 projects; we published over 60 blogs and 20 case studies; and 15,000 people visited the platform in 24,000 sessions (up to May 9th).

Work Package 1 also included research which analysed DSI across Europe through the DSI4EU database and other methods (such as social media scraping), and, through literature review and interviews, explored the barriers to growth of DSI in Europe. The final report, What next for digital social innovation? Realising the potential of people and technology to tackle social challenges was published in May 2017 and is the most comprehensive overview of DSI in Europe today.

Work Package 2 focused on dissemination and engagement. It was closely linked to Work Package 1, engaging the DSI community in the platform. Through Work Package 2 we sent a monthly newsletter to over 2,000 subscribers; managed an active Twitter account which gained over 2,500 followers; and held several events: namely two policy workshops in Brussels and a major event in May 2017, held at Nesta’s offices in London, attended by over 200 people.

Work Package 3 consisted of an experimental training programme which engaged DSI innovators, particularly those in the maker movement, through offline workshops and online meetups to develop strategies for growth and scale based on open design. This work package led to the development of mentoring guidelines for DSI and the DSI Toolkit, published alongside the final research report in May 2017.

Through these work packages, DSI4EU has successfully mapped and explored DSI across Europe; developed collective understanding of barriers to growth; put forward policy and practical actions to accelerate the growth of DSI; proposed avenues for further research; connected hundreds of innovators and provided a hub for DSI across Europe; engaged with high-level policymakers to put DSI on the European Commission’s agenda; co-designed tools for innovators to successfully grow their initiatives; and provided a wealth of knowledge about good practice.
The impact of the project has been widespread and has had positive effects for a range of DSI stakeholders: innovators, citizens, researchers and policymakers have all benefited from the project. These impacts are explored above and throughout the final Management Report.

Beyond this, we are pleased to be able to keep the platform live for the foreseeable future, so that the DSI community continues to have a place online to find and share knowledge. We have facilitated connections between stakeholders across Europe which will continue to have a positive effect in the coming months and years, and eventually with continued support enable new citizen-led approaches to tackling the big social challenges our continent faces.
Waag Director Marleen Stikker meets Kurt Vandenburghe, European Commission
DSI Logo
The DSI Logo with text
SUPSI present at LIFT Conference, Geneva, March 2017
Geographical distribution of DSI organisations in Europe