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A Guide To Social Innovation

The European Commission DG Regional and Urban Policy and DG Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion prepared a guide to social innovation.

What is social innovation? How can public authorities support it? How to implement it? All of the answers to these questions are detailed in the guide along with examples and case studies.

Recommendations include: 

  1. Preparing a strategy and action plan for social innovation that is linked to the region’s smart specialisation strategy;
  2. Building capacity for social innovation by supporting new organisations and adapting existing organisations. This might involve supporting independent third sector agencies for social innovation as well as setting up units within the public sector. There is also a role for training in new methods of idea generation, problematizing and in financial models;
  3. Strengthening the market for social innovations and encouraging cross sectoral collaborations by using the power of public procurement to encourage innovative and cross sectoral approaches;
  4. Supporting the innovators to get started and to grow through business support measures and by encouraging workplace innovation;
  5. Investing in new financing models for each stage of the innovation process and specifically for financing pilots, implementations and scaling up. Exploring how new financial instruments might support results based approaches (e.g. along the lines of social impact bonds or payment by results models);
  6. Setting up better structures for measuring the results of social innovation, for evaluation, benchmarking and comparison of existing and proposed policies and projects;
  7. Promoting exchange and learning on approaches to social innovation across Europe.


08 May 2013