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Social Innovation Fund

What is Social Innovation?

The European Commission describes Social Innovation as ‘the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations’.  Social innovation is about trying out new ideas and solutions to solve complex social problems or needs.

Social innovation involves:

  • identifying and understanding social needs

  • creating, developing and piloting new ideas and solutions to address these needs

  • measuring and understanding (evaluating) the effectiveness of new ideas andsolutions

  • where relevant, ‘scaling up’ of new solutions that are effective and work

Social innovation is:

  • open to knowledge-sharing amongst partners and participants

  • focused on collaboration, working together and solving problems

  • respectful towards and empowering of service users and their contribution, rather than ‘top down’ and expert-led

  • demand-led rather than supply-driven

  • tailored to ensure new solutions can be adapted to local circumstances and personalised to individuals

Social innovation can:

  • provide new, more efficient and effective ways to meet social needs

  • provide local answers to complex social challenges

  • encourage a range of stakeholders to tackle problems jointly, by working together in new ways and involving service users

There are missed opportunities in Scotland due to a lack of awareness of the potential benefits for third sector organisations, in particular social enterprises, to engage in partnership with the academic sector and stimulate social innovation.  The Fund aims to create stronger links between the social economy, communities, academia and research institutes to address this.

The Social Innovation Fund aims to stimulate, test, support and deliver social innovation and enterprise in the social economy to encourage innovative approaches to tackling poverty and inequality.  This partnership approach between the third sector and academia and other partners such as public bodies and SME’s will result in:

  • enhanced capacity to deliver better outcomes for the most disadvantaged groups

  • sharing of learning and good practice

Those affected by poverty and inequality are themselves involved in identifying sustainable solutions to make systemic positive changes.  By adopting the EU’s three-stage approach to supporting social innovation, it will be possible to create new ways of working, cutting across sectoral and organisational barriers by:

  • encouraging ‘in house’ social innovation, providing people working in the sector with the permission, space and resources to be creative

  • developing and testing new ideas for products and services, and design ‘prototype’ models

  • scale up successful models

Round 2 of the Social Innovation Fund is now closed and we will update the website with details of approved projects.  If you have any queries please direct these to InfoGrowingtheSocialEconomy@gov.scot