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European Support to Social Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ESSI (European Support to Social Innovation)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2018-10-31

The purpose of ESSI is to analyze different regional contexts in terms of social innovation support programs and explore key topics, based on surveyed needs, to suggest actions to be taken by the public sector and together with social economy and social enterprises actors. Moreover, ESSI aims to promote a comprehensive approach to social innovation, able to overcome silos policies through a mix of strategies influenced by economic, social and environmental aspects (ref. to United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015). Indeed, the project focus is to address European development agencies in sustaining their regional governments in the adoption of new strategies and policies for social innovation and social enterprises.
Overall objectives:
• To deliver adequate innovation support that better meets European Social Enterprises (SE) needs.
• To focus on topics perceived as important from social innovation key actors
• To suggest a range of new approaches and “possible actions” on social innovation based on public and private co-design to be taken by Regional governments in their innovation support programs and services.
• To ensure a wide dissemination and participation of other Regional development agencies and actors through existing European and international networks and platforms.

To achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the four regional development agencies ERVET (Emilia-Romagna), ADA (Ankara), IVACE (Valencia) and KAINUUN ETU OY (Kainuu) joined their forces in analyzing, comparing and discussing social innovation eco-systems. An intensive brainstorming and peer learning activity based on co-created workshops that involved local, regional and European actors therefore led them to identify main topics on which to draw attention, recommendations and possible concrete actions to be adopted and hopefully implemented at regional, national and international levels.
Within the ESSI project, the partners worked together through the organization of one kick off meeting and 4 joint co-created workshops in each of their regions and through skype meetings. The workshops always provided for a seminar open to stakeholders. In the various seminars, topics considered relevant for social innovation were discussed. Partners initially carried out a brief research exploring needs and relevant topics for the development of social innovation in their respective regions. Regional stakeholders have been involved in brainstorming activities. Identified topics:
1) Legal and regulatory framework - Laws and legislation with regard to the social entrepreneurship and social innovation eco-system. 2) Business support structure - funding to promote innovation and social enterprises competitiveness, such as government grants, charitable grants, impact investors, crowdfunding resources; ability of social enterprises to sell goods and services they produce in the local, national and international markets. 3) Research, Innovation and Technology - as a vector of innovation and social development. 4) Education and training - formal and informal education opportunities on social value, social entrepreneurship, social innovation and welfare help people to extend their horizon and equip them with necessary knowledge and skills to be successful social entrepreneurs. 5) Social value and social impact - social value is an intangible outcome of an activity carried out for social purposes while social impact is a measurable effect of a project, program, activity, service or product. Both can be indicators to evaluate social enterprises and public sector activities and policies.
Partners examined in-depth the topics, bringing out similarities and differences in their territories; emerging needs came out in each region. Then, they elaborated the Design Option Paper (DOP) that contains the detailed description of the work carried out, from the research activity to the sharing of results. It includes recommendations and possible actions that can be taken by local, regional, national and European governments. Beyond ESSI project, the results of the DOP will be widespread trough regional, national and European networks with the objectives to involve other development agencies. The dissemination path began in Brussels (October 2018) within the European Week of Regions and Cities, during with the results of the peer learning activities have been presented to other European RDAs, social entrepreneurs, members of the European Commission and of the Regional Governments.
ESSI has also produced 2 video for promotional purposes addressed to general public and to stakeholders, relevant actors and policy makers.
The 4 partner development agencies of the ESSI project are closely linked with both international and local networks. In their regions, they are considered important hubs for social innovation and social economy and they support the implementation of policies, programs and actions. Consequently, they will be able to disseminate the knowledge acquired and the results of the shared work to other development agencies and institutions within their local and regional connections. At international level, the EURADA network, to which they already belong, will play an important role. The potential impact will concern both the adoption of the results by the development agencies already involved during project implementation and, as a domino effect, by other agencies belonging to the EURADA network. Furthermore, as the work has been carried out together with its stakeholders - including policy makers, at regional level four regional innovation programs/structural funds Regional Operative Plans will be addressed. Socio-economic impact and wider societal implications will concern:
• new approaches in dealing innovation services to SMEs
• the adaptation to real emerging needs of stakeholders (public administrations, associations, universities, research centers, social enterprises)
• an attention by governments for a more targeted legal framework
• larger access to innovative finance opportunities and to the market by Social Enterprises
• new businesses focused on emerging challenges and exploiting ICT and research opportunities
• services, policies and innovation supporting measures reconfigured to better support SE needs
• recognition of social value and social impact also as an indicators of reward
"Presentation of ESSI outcomes at ""Regions and Cities for social innovation"", Brussels 11/10/2018"
ESSI team