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Solutions to social challenges #Batch2

The Social Innovation Community has worked with five local partners using the social innovation methodology to address societal challenges as they present themselves in the cities of Oslo, Parnu, Turin and Zagreb. These ranged from how to better include refugees to the workforce (Oslo) to how to mobilize cultural creative professionals to improve their city (Zagreb) and from how to prevent young people leaving a city to work elsewhere (Parnu) to how the complex needs of vulnerable people can better be met (Turin).

During these collaborative social innovation processes, the local groups have developed specific solutions to their challenges. We can distinguish between solutions aimed at 1) Creating job opportunities and sharing knowledge through platforms for business, from those 2) Overcoming fragmentation through redesigning public services. And solutions aimed at 3) Refugee inclusion through multi-actor collaboration and those 4) Tapping into the underutilized potential of urban spaces.

Last week, we have introduced solutions to the first two types of solutions and this week, we focus on the remainder.

1 Refugee inclusion through multi-actor collaboration

The inclusion of refugees in their arrival societies and labour markets remains a challenge, whether in the North or the South-East of Europe. Three solutions address this problem and focus on building connections between relevant agencies, offices, NGO’s and other actors as well as on providing access to language trainings as an important stepping stone in the process of arriving at a new place.

  • Language Training  Increasingly Croatia, and Zagreb more specifically, have become a destination for refugees – since this is a new phenomenon, there is no history with questions regarding social integration. The proposed solution is to establish a multi-disciplinary working group that supports asylum seekers and acts as intermediary towards the city officials – a first pilot focuses on providing language learning systems.
  • Employer network   The network consists of individuals working in different organizations willing to host a refugee as a language intern in their institution. The network serves as a tool for job seekers to find employers willing to host refugees, and for employers to connect and exchange experiences with other employers who are hosting refugees. One member of the network will have experience in hosting refugee interns. This coordinator will host monthly meetings, be available for questions between meetings, and facilitate contact with the Social Welfare Administration.
  • Integration day  The solution aims to facilitate cross-sector collaborations and communication for all the various initiatives, public offices, NGOs, social entrepreneurs and private sector employers in Oslo working to include refugees in the workforce. Through a series of regular breakfast events, connections are forged between these actors.


2 Tapping into the underutilized potential of urban spaces

Zagreb is a city with full potential – whether in terms of green areas or in terms of vacant commercial space. Two solutions are addressing these spaces and combine them with either creative entrepreneurial activity or with the physical activation of citizens. 

  • Pop-up Ilica  Focuses on using the many empty commercial spaces on Zagreb’s main street, Ilica as catalysts for incubation and testing of new cultural, artistic and creative projects, services and products. In doing so it will experiment with different pop-up models to find more sustainable management models.
  • Smart Parks App  This app combines the fact that many inhabitants of Zagreb are not physically active with the fact that Zagreb is a very green city. It aims to promote sports and active recreation especially for less active groups such as youngsters and older people.


Stay tuned for more details about the processes in each of the five cities – we’ll be sharing these in the coming weeks.