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Digital social innovation

Network description

This network aims to engage a diverse range of actors. Among these is the growing movement of technology entrepreneurs and innovators in civil society developing inspiring digital solutions to social challenges - from social networks for those living with chronic health conditions to online platforms using open data to create more transparency about public spending. The EC-funded project (Digital social Innovation' (led by Nesta) has mapped over 1,000 organisations working on DSI across Europe on www.digitalsocial.eu. Digital technologies can also be an enabler, or catalyst, that allows innovation to take place in more 'traditional' SI fields, and the network would focus on engaging these actors as well. The EC-funded TEPSIE project (through DTI), for example, showed how social innovators are using information and communication technologies alongside offline tools and approaches to both support and enable social innovation across a range of thematic areas from employment to place making. Meanwhile, a large number of actors across Europe are involved in digital inclusion; these have recently started discussing social innovation. There is also a growing field of interest in frugal innovation and the use of technology to provide frugal solutions to social challenges, particularly in developing countries.

Social innovation relevance

Building and strengthening emerging DSI networks, and linking them with other SI communities, can support existing social innovations and create new opportunities for social innovation. As an example, many third sector organisations have not yet fully harnessed the potential of digital technologies to support their work. In contrast, many digital innovators may not recognise themselves as 'social innovators' or have links to policy makers or wider SI communities.