Scientists from across Europe and the wider Mediterranean area met at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen (Scotland) at the end of May 2016 to mark the start of a 4-year project addressing some of the most important social challenges faced by rural areas. The Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) project, supported with €5.5m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme, aims to understand and enhance social innovation.
Professor Maria Nijnik, SIMRA project coordinator, working at the James Hutton Institute said: “Social innovation responds to demands that are traditionally not addressed by markets or existing institutions, and that the challenge for this international team is to advance knowledge and to promote implementation of social innovation in marginalised rural areas”.
“Social innovation manifests itself in new social relationships and collaborations. It seeks to promote the development and uptake of new services and new fields of activity, such as social entrepreneurship and social enterprises that improve the quality of life of individuals and communities.”
According to Professor Nijnik, examples of social innovation are community-owned renewable energy initiatives and social enterprises which help disadvantaged groups gain access to work as well as to healthcare, and can include new institutional arrangements, while governance mechanisms based on new social networks advance social capital and can create new social innovations.
Four members of Euromontana (EURAC, the University of Highlands and Islands, ENRI and SAB) in addition of Euromontana are directly involved in the project. Euromontana is the co-leader of the workpackage on Communication and Dissemination. The project website will soon be available for more information.20 June 2016