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Although the definition of social innovation in Finland continues to evolve, one definition that has been used in the context of social innovation in Finland is Zapf’s (1989) interpretation: “Social innovation can be defined as new ways of reaching specific goals and they include new organization forms, new regulations as well as new life styles that solve problems better than traditional practices do and that are worth imitating and/or institutionalizing. Innovations have to change the direction of social development”.

Social innovation in Finland has seen particular prominence in the health and welfare field. In 2007, an open national innovation environment called Innovillage began and it is currently maintained by the National Institute for Welfare and Health, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and the Finnish Society for Social and Health. Innovillage started as a response to the challenges around the ageing population, the threatened availability of skillful professionals, and a recession within the public sector; New models and solutions were needed to meet these challenges. 

Social innovation is time and context specific. That means it can mean different things in different context. What might not seem innovative in one country, may be ground breaking in another. The political and cultural background is important to understand. There are also a wide variety of organisations involved in this field, each have different perspectives.  So, the purpose of this page is to demonstrate a variety of views on what social innovation means to different kinds of organisations in Finland.

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