Project budget3 085 644 €
ERDF amount1 851 385 €
The common challenges tackled by the project are: “relatively low level of social innovation” and “development of social enterprises as SMEs”. Social Enterprises (SEs) are well placed to deliver social innovation in the 2 seas area. A 2012 SBS survey found 67% of UK SEs had introduced a new or significantly improved product or service in the previous 12 months compared to 43% of non-SE SMEs. Yet their dual missions of social purpose and business create complex needs which require specialized solutions in order to make social innovations commercially viable and sustainable.
The overall objective of this project is to improve the capacity of social enterprises to develop and deliver sustainable and high impact innovations. Currently there is no methodology for the consistent harnessing of sustainable social enterprise innovation and a lack of joint tools and services for their development. The expected change our project will make will be an improvement in the framework conditions for innovation through enhanced cross-border cooperation, increase in innovation partnerships and R&D, and new and more effective models and tools for delivery of social innovation.
- Formulation of a joint strategy and action plan to improve capacity of SEs to deliver sustainable and high impact innovation
- Establishment of a SE Innovation Accelerator network of quadruple helix partners in the 2 seas area
- Establishment of a joint framework methodology for SE sustainable innovation
- Development of actions to support established social entrepreneurs through a cross-border innovation accelerator programme linked to the framework
- Establishment of pilot actions linking capabilities of partners to develop an online training tool linked to the framework for SE Start Ups
Cross border approach
Working across borders, we will capitalise on smart specialisation to share knowledge and experience in this relatively new sector to inform successful implementation of sustainable innovation within SEs. Cross-border collaboration will enable smart specialisation and develop a market to transfer innovations from SE across the regions. We will further address the threat identified in the SWOT analysis “Social economy covers different realities in the four MS which may endanger the development of cooperation” by working collaboratively to build a platform for future cooperation.
The Spark Project has seen the successful completion of pioneering research led by University of Brighton which has resulted in the 'Social Enterprise Innovation Roadmap' document - a user friendly document that social enterprises can use to evaluate, stimulate and grow their own capacity for sustainable innovation. The documents outlines the framework conditions neccesary for sustainable innovation and provides case studies that highlight innovation in practice. To support the Innovation Roadmap UoB has also produced a number of tools such as a version of the Innovation Roadmap specific to start up SEs, and also the 1-2-3 Go! methodology which has been disseminated through workshops and 1-2-1 coaching sessions as part of the Accelerator Programme (WP2).
The research also led to the development of the Strategy and Action plan - a 'living document' whereby stakeholders and support agencies can 'cross-furtalise' their plans and commitments to grow the ecosystem and support for the social enterprises. Stakeholders from all sectors are also actively engaging in the Social Enterprise Innovation Accelerator Network. The membership of this online community has grown to ***. The network provides opportunities for the exchange of skills, knowledget and support through cross border cooperation.
The Social Enterprise Innovation Accelerator Programme has now completed and has had a huge impact with three cross boarder Safaris, a programme of expert coaching sessions for SEs to focus on their own individual innovation journey and the programme culminated in a very well recieved Conference in Brussels which provided opportunities for those social enterprises involved in the Open Innovation Group (OIG) to present their learning and development and an opportunity for stakeholders, support agencies and social enterprises from the three cross border nations to begin discussing and exploring how Open Innovation can further be developed in the 2 Seas area.
We are just about to launch a fantastic webportal for start up social enterprises which will provide expert and accessible information through a series of 19 modules - unlike anything that currently exists for new start up social enterprises!