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The Social Innovation family: what about social economy and digital social innovation?

During the European Industry Days, taking place in Brussels, on 5-6 February 2019, a special focus was given to the wider family of social innovation including social enterprises and digital social innovation. Both the European Economic and Social Council and DIESIS, the EU network specialised in supporting social economy and social enterprise development, organised events taking stock of the current policy situation and providing concrete examples.


How are social economy and digital social innovation part of the social innovation family?
In a rapidly changing economic and technological context, different drivers have emerged driving social impact. For instance, technological solutions although often categorised as classical innovation can develop in an intuitive way, without centralised governmental support and deliver benefits in terms of traceability, fair pricing, common verified standards, consumer safety for instance. These characteristics find an echo in the SIMRA definition of social innovation highlighting the reconfiguration of social practices, the engagement of civil society actors and the enhancement of well-being.

Indeed, social enterprises and digital solutions are closer to civil society in a way as they are accessible, and the added value of their existence is easy to identify. They can also be considered as tools for scaling-up local initiatives and sustaining their social impact. Platforms in particular are tools to foster cooperation and enablers for the development of further initiatives. For instance, the example of open source software was given to illustrate how platforms could create a shared technology solution for local uptake – working in a similar manner to cooperatives.


Concrete illustration in rural areas
During both events organised during the European Industry Days, the concept of blockchain i.e. an innovative digital system which records transactions in an inalterable manner, was discussed time and time again. From an external point of view, the application in rural areas seemed rather distant as they are often seen as less-connected areas. However, here are 3 concrete examples of digital social innovation in rural areas:

  • SunContract: SunContract is a Slovenian energy-trading platform that utilizes blockchain technology to create a new business model for buying and selling electricity. SunContract joins together Independent Power Producers and Consumers. They connect to the decentralized energy market platform through SunContract mobile APP. Only renewable energy is traded, and the users can set their own buying/selling price.
  • Ridygo: Ridygo is a French cooperative and participatory society for real-time carpooling on short distance trips. Ridygo users are able to participate, with employees, in its governance. According to their data, 50% of job-seekers have already refused employment or training for reasons related to mobility so they have invented a business model that allows job seekers to travel for free with Ridygo. Transactions are concluded thanks to an app.
  • SavingFood: SavingFood offers a solution to the food waste challenge by developing an online networked community of various stakeholders that facilitates the redistribution of surplus food and leftover crops for the benefit of the vulnerable groups of our society.


Challenges and policy options
Although the enthusiasm around these digital and entrepreneurial solutions is encouraging for rural areas and entrepreneurship, many academia and policy speakers during the European Industry Days, highlighted their limits and incurred risks. These risks include the problem of the data used in ICT tools which needs to be of good quality, safely stored, accessible by data owners and used ethically. Additionally, to data protection risks, in some Member States still, the status for social economy entrepreneurs hasn’t been created and they encounter serious funding and legal problems. Finally, of course, the digitalisation of rural areas still remains a problem in many EU regions.

For this reason, the European Parliament’s intergroup “Social Economy Europe” has published a memorandum with 10 proposals for the European elections 2019, which you can read here. Indeed, social economy and social enterprises are benefitting from a growing number of EU policy initiatives such as the Social Challenge Innovation Platform, the European Social Innovation Competition, the future InvestEU initiative, the European Social Pillar, etc. Arguably, social innovation and civil society are supported through European Structural Funds and the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation, as well as policies that connect to SDGs, but barely mentioned in the CAP except for the Smart Villages initiative.

Regarding the CAP, SIMRA supports a mandatory cross-cutting principle for social innovation to be used in relation to any nationally designed measure of the Rural Development Programme (RDP), alongside the wider application of Community-Led Local Development. Social innovation could thereby provide a policy accelerator for any specified measure of the RDP to be used at the discretion of Member States, complementing other initiatives such as Smart Villages, results-based measures at ecosystem and catchment scale, and of especial relevance in marginalised rural areas.

Visit the “Resources” section on the SIMRA website to read our policy briefs.


7 March 2019

Euromontana sur Facebook

7 days ago


Vă invităm în perioada 23 – 25 mai 2019, la cea de-a XXI–a ediţie a Conferinţei ştiinţifice internaţionale "Turismul rural românesc în context internațional. Actualitate şi perspective", ce va avea loc la Vatra Dornei.

We invite you on May 23 - 25, 2019, at the XXIth edition of the International Scientific Conference "Romanian Rural Tourism in an International Context. Actuality and Perspectives", to be held in Vatra Dornei.

Organizatori: Agenția Națională a Zonei Montane, împreună cu Academia Română, filiala Iaşi – Institutul de Cercetări Economice şi Sociale "Gh. Zane" și Institutul Național de Cercetări Economice "Costin C. Kiriţescu"/INCE Centrul de Economie Montana "CE-MONT" Vatra Dornei, Ministerul Agriculturii și Dezvoltării Rurale – Reteaua Nationala de Dezvoltare Rurala - RNDR, alături de Primăria Municipiului Vatra Dornei, Asociaţia Naţională de Turism Rural Ecologic şi Cultural - ANTREC Bucovina, Institutul Naţional de Cercetare Dezvoltare în Turism - INCDT Bucureşti, Asociaţia Europeană a Ţărilor cu Munţi – Euromontana și Asociația Generală a Economiștilor din România AGER - Filiala Iaşi.

Evenimentul se adresează oamenilor de știință, cercetătorilor, cadrelor didactice universitare, doctoranzilor, masteranzilor, cu preocupări în cercetarea fenomenului turistic din spațiul rural, care, împreună cu managerii de pensiuni turistice și agroturistice încearcă să găsească soluții optime de revigorare a mediului rural și a fenomenului turistic din acest spaţiu.

Tematica manifestării:
 Turismul rural și agroturismul în contextul dezvoltării durabile la nivel naţional, regional și global;
 Tradiționalism vs. modernism în turismul rural;
 Strategii naționale și regionale de dezvoltare a turismului rural;
 Managementul și marketingul e-turismului;
 Comportamentul prestatorilor şi consumatorilor de servicii de turism rural;
 Rolul legislaţiei în domeniu în promovarea şi dezvoltarea turismului rural;
 Turismul rural din perspectivă multidisciplinară şi interdisciplinară: economie, sociologie, drept, psihologie, antropologie, etnografie, folclor etc.
 Bune practici internaționale

Lucrările Conferinței vor avea loc la Agenția Națională a Zonei Montane, din Vatra Dornei, strada Runc nr. 23, în „Amfiteatrul Munților”, după următorul Program:
Joi, 23 mai
13.00 - 14.00 Înregistrarea participanților
14.00 - 14.30 Deschiderea oficială
14.30 - 15.30 Prezentarea lucrărilor ştiinţifice – Partea I
15.30 - 16.00 Pauză cafea
16.00 - 19.00 Prezentarea lucrărilor ştiinţifice – Partea II
20.00 - 21.00 Cina
Vineri, 24 mai
09.00 - 11.00 Prezentarea lucrărilor ştiinţifice – Partea III
11.00 - 11.30 Pauză cafea
11.30 - 14.00 Prezentarea lucrărilor ştiinţifice – Partea IV
14.00 - 15.30 Pauză de masă
15.30 - 17.30 Prezentarea lucrărilor ştiinţifice – Partea V
17.30 - 18.00 Pauză cafea
18.00 - 19.30 Dezbateri, Concluzii
19.30 - 20.00 Închiderea lucrărilor
20.00 - 21.00 Cina festivă
Sâmbătă, 25 mai
09.30 - 16.00 Aplicaţie practică în comuna Vama

Mai multe detalii aici: geodantacu.wixsite.com/rorut?fbclid=IwAR23N_-GCwNINkE37dm48j6EVqTlo-TEWcoqDNnQL6wvl6GSFlr1-w7HJvE
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