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Event Review: Sharing Insight, Shaping Action

On the 21st of November 2011, a select group of policy experts, academics, practitioners and innovators from across Europe came together to validate the reports produced by the SIE consortium: “Strengthening Social Innovation in Europe: Funding and Financing” and “Strengthening Social Innovation in Europe: Road Map for Effective Assessment” with a view to turning assessment into action in Europe and around the world.

The language of ‘report validations’ doesn’t accurately describe the conversation at this event; those participating had the opportunity to add their voices to the debate on how European policy can best support social innovation on the ground. The reports opened up discussion and participants in breakout sessions and panel discussions took the opportunity to fill in gaps and develop the reports’ recommendations.

The event, hosted at the Gdynia Innovation Centre in Gdynia, Poland, was organized by Euclid Network and the Social Innovation Europe team and included participants from across Europe, and as far afield as South Korea and Canada.

The day opened with welcome addresses from Louise Pulford of the Social Innovation Exchange, Simon Tucker of the Young Foundation, and Michał Guć, the Deputy Mayor of Gdynia, who discussed the successes of the city in terms of its citizens’ spirit of innovation—Gdynia’s genius loci.

Henriette Van Eijl and Liesbet de Letter, two innovation champions at the European Commission, then discussed the relevance of the two reports at a policy level. They also touched on the work that remains to be done at a national level if we are to secure an environment where social innovations can flourish.

Later in the morning, researchers Carmel O’Sullivan and Neil Reeder presented the two reports to the SIE community. Participants were eager to jump into a collaborative discussion of the reports’ recommendations and to hone the content of these framework documents.

Throughout the event, a group of strong Eastern European voices brought the SIE network some much-needed insight into the state of social innovation in the region; Michał Guć, Kuba Wygnanski, from the Polish social innovation unit Shipyard, Eva Varga of NESsT, and Filip Pazdersk of the Polish Institute of Public Affairs all made major contributions to the shape of the event. It was widely agreed that the Initiative must continue to work to secure and strengthen its network in Eastern Europe.

The outcome of discussions will ultimately feed into the third and final report of the Social Innovation Europe initiative ‘Social Innovation and European Policy – Mapping the way forward’. Given our experiences at the Social Innovation Europe Initiative’s second event, we trust that this community has the insight and the interest to co-create a thoughtful final report which will support European leaders to bring the continent to the forefront of global social innovation practice.