Vision and Trends of Social Innovation for Europe

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The European Commission (DG Research and Innovation) tasked PlusValue to identify solutions and make recommendations for a revived social innovation agenda of the Union. The study Vision and Trends of Social Innovation for Europe is the outcome of the research undertaken by Filippo Addarii and Fiorenza Lipparini and recently published by the European Commission

Europe is facing big challenges: an ageing society, mass migration, rapid changes in family structures, shrinking share of global GDP and the combined effects of globalization and automation on the labor market. Social cohesion is eroding daily. People’s trust in the ability of institutions to build a fair and flourishing society is waning. Public confidence in institutions is in free fall. New generations are ever more disconnected from representative democracy.

The European Commission has led forward-thinking in the last year through a review of social policies to tackle the unintended consequences of innovation. Brussels jargon calls this “Social Europe”. Yet, the solution is not the traditional Welfare State. The economic and social conditions are not in place to replicate the welfare state of post-war Europe. Instead, Europe needs a systematic plan that tackles social problems embedded in industrial policy for innovation and growth. This is social innovation.

Here is our proposal in a nutshell. The new European Social Innovation is Human-centered, System focused and unwaveringly political. Above all, it requires a great deal of ambition and political capital to challenge the status quo – especially vested interests in current institutional arrangements – to build a new generation of institutions and diffused capacity to catalyze and coordinate the action of diverse peoples, companies and public bodies, balancing top-down and bottom-up approaches, and combining effective action with public accountability