Innovation creates IMPACT = change connected with the economic and social value - for business, for society, for people, for politics. Innovation with the greatest impact takes a place at the intersections between economic and social spheres, between technology and society, between profit and non-profit sector and the government, between developed and developing countries.
SIMPACT with its twelve partners from ten European countries is a research collaboration that aims at understanding the economic foundation of social innovation (SI) targeting marginalised and vulnerable groups in society. With their distinctive characteristics, practices that are gathered under the term, social innovations ideally facilitate the activation of these groups through empowerment and therewith, contribute to social and/or economic impact.
However, several key issues need to be addressed before SI can be fully mainstreamed into the European economic sphere and its policy environment. We need
- an improved understanding of the functioning of markets, public sector and institutions for the marginalised and vulnerable;
- stronger and more coherent concepts of social innovation including alternative business models for financing, distribution and employment;
- a better understanding of the characteristics and mechanisms of successful SI;
- public policy instruments and methods for evaluating the economic and social impact of social innovation.
This were SIMPACT comes into play. The project systematically investigates the economic foundation of SI in relation to markets, public sector and institutions in order to be able to provide a dynamic framework for action at the level of individuals, organisations and networks. Economic foundation in the here used sense should not be interpreted as economisation of SI limited to e.g. questions of market efficiency. Actually, it is about economic principles, objectives and components that make SI successful in terms of economic and social/societal value.