PRIMO WELFARE / Innovazione Sociale
Beyond Imagination: a socially innovative Europe
The results of the Conference organised in Seville by the Social Innovation Community reported by Gianluca Misuraca, Senior Scientist at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
23 novembre 2018

Last week Seville was the "European capital of Social Innovation", hosting the Conference "Beyond Imagination: a socially innovative Europe", organised by the Social Innovation Community (SIC), which is a Horizon 2020 Programme funded project, run by a consortium of 12 partner across Europe, started in 2016 and ending on 31st January 2019. With about 200 participants from over 50 countries, the conference attracted a wide range of experts from social innovation organisations and networks for an intense series of discussions, debates and networking activities between 12th and 13th November.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Seville (JRC) was involved and contributed to the event in different capacities. First of all, during the formal opening, chaired by Armelle Ledan, SIC Project coordinator, AEIDL, on behalf of JRC Seville Director Luis Delgado-SanchoMr Ioannis Maghiros, Head of Unit B4, delivered the opening remarks stressing the need to rethink the European Social Model so as to contribute to the creation of a more resilient society. He also underlined that the importance of Social and the social dimension of Europe is recognised by the recent proposal of including in the future budget of the EU a 4 billion Euros window on "Social investment and Skills" as part of the InvestEU Fund. This guarantee is estimated to mobilise a total of 50 billion Euros during the implementation of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027.
 
The conference in fact came just after the endorsement by Commissioner Moedas of the Social Innovation Declaration at the WebSummit 2018 in Lisbon, where the Commissioner responsible for Research & Innovation declared that "Innovation today is about purpose, about doing something that can fulfil us as human beings. In the EU we are going to put more money into social innovation, not because it is trendy, but because we believe that the future of innovation is about social innovation" (See more details here). 
 
The event was thus timely to start discussing how to turn the declaration into action. For this purpose, after an ice-breaking presentation by Danielle Knight of Superflux, a keynote dialogue on "Taking the first steps of radical change" took place, with Erika Widegren of Re-Imagine Europa, and Pat Kane, from The Alternative UK. This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Louise Pulford, SIX on "The collective impact of a decade of social innovation in Europe", with Agnes Hubert, former advisor to President Barroso on Social Innovation; Slawomir Tokarski, European Commission DG Growth ; Vitor Nogueira, European Commission DG Employment; and myself on behalf of JRC Seville, presenting the collective results of IESI and our Community.
 
I also had the pleasure to moderate a session on Harnessing the digital revolution for social innovation, together with Matt Stokes of Nesta, and with contribution from Erika Widegren, CEO Reimagine Europa, and Fiorenza Lipparini, Research Director at PlusValue. Giulio Pasi, JRC Unit B4, instead contributed to the session on Unlocking funding for social innovation: more than just money? moderated by Louise Pulford of SIX.
 
Alongside the event we also had the great pleasure to welcome in Seville Ms Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild & President of the European Social Platform, representing the project Childonomics: Measuring the long-term social and economic value of investing in children which has been awarded the EU4FACTS prize at the JRC Annual Conference 2017 Evidence for Policy in a post-factual world. Hainsworth also participoated in the closing plenary panel discussion of the SIC conference with Gorka Espiau, McGill University; Eddy Adams, Metropak; Nora van der Linden; Kuba Wygnański, Shipyard; calling for more research on evidence based policy-making.
 
Taking advantage of Jana Hainsworth  and other experts presence in Seville, after the conference we organised at JRC an Informal Meeting on New funding schemes for social policy innovation and a Workshop on Boosting the Impact of Social Policy Innovation. 
 
The first meeting was chaired by Erika Widegren, CEO, Re-Imagine Europa, and had the objective to discuss with participants concrete examples of social innovation linked to impact investing and aimed at urban regeneration, with a particular focus on addressing vulnerable people. After my Welcome & Introduction, the event started with a speech on Social Investment in the EU: a stakeholders perspective and critical reflection by Jana Hainsworth. This was followed by presentations on DESIGNSCAPES: the potential of co-design and social innovation as targets of vertical policy actions, by Francesco Molinari, International Researcher & Policy Advisor, and on MIND: Social outcome-based regeneration and a new vision for the renewal of our cities by Fiorenza Lipparini, Research Director at PlusValueA very active discussion moderated by Samuel Barco, Consultant on Social Economy, took place before the closing remarks by Agnes Hubert, G5+ and former BEPA advisor on Social Innovation.
 
On 14th November, a full day workshop was instead organised at JRC to allow Jana Hainsworth to present the EU4FACTS award-winning project Childonomics and activities of Eurochild and the Social Platform to JRC staff and selected international and local experts, as well as to expose her to relevant JRC research and policy support activities. The event started with a session on Implementing Social Investment through Impact Investing, chaired by Agnes Hubert, and author of the report Empowering people, driving change: Social innovation in the EU and keynotes speeches by Jana Hainsworth on Measuring the Long-term Social and Economic value of Investing in Children and Miguel Poiares Maduro, Director of the School of Transnational Governance and Professor of European Law, European University Institute, on Social impact investment in the EU: Financing strategies and outcomes oriented approaches for social policy innovation, presenting the main conclusions of the research conducted jointly by JRC and EUI as part of the IESI Research.
 
The following session focused on Unleashing Social Investment through Digital Social Innovation included my presentations on Digital Social innovation and the modernisation of European Social protection Systems: lessons from the IESI research & implications for policySocial Innovation & Resilience: results from IESI mapping 2017, by Fiorenza Lipparini; and The initial proposal of setting up a Social Policy Innovation Network – (SPIN) by Giulio Pasi, JRC Unit B4.
 
The afternoon session addressed The Multi-Faceted Future of Social Europe, and I chaired the discussion with presentation of relevant JRC research including: 
1) SELFIE: Self-reflection on Effective Learning by Fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies, by Panagiotis Kampylis, JRC Unit B4;
2) Digital Innovation Hubs in Smart Specialisation Strategies: Synergies and Early Lessons from European Regions, by Gabriel Rissola, JRC Unit B3; 
3) Social Networks and social entrepreneurship, by Thomas Zacharewicz, JRC Unit B7; 
4) ESF & InvestEU: an Impact Assessment Exercise to Understand their Macroeconomic Implication, by Simone Salotti,  JRC Unit B3.
 

The views expressed are purely those of the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission
 


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