Well where to start with Europe? An upcoming referendum on EU membership? A debate on reform of the EU institutions’? A campaign to keep Scotland in the EU? There’s a lot to come, and we’ll be working hard to keep you informed so that you can have a say on it all.
However, for now I am going to tell you all about a FREE conference we have coming up in partnership with the European Economic and Social committee (EESC) on Boosting Social Innovation for Greater Social Outcomes .
You might have noticed that lots of people are talking about social innovation as if it’s some new way forward. I have even seen lots of complex definitions for innovation but don’t be fooled by these. It really is quite simple. Innovation is “new ideas that work” and social innovation is “new ideas that work to meet pressing unmet needs and improve peoples’ lives”.
The political powers across Europe have recognised that whilst we have growth in the economy, it is not inclusive growth
The results of social innovation are all around us in the third sector and have been for a long time. What you all do out there is social innovation. Whether it is self -help groups, befriending schemes, community transport, credit unions, helping people back to work, into work and keeping them in work to community renewables, land ownership and defending human rights all are examples of social innovation. I get rather frustrated with the re-badging and the obsession for new labels.
So now the political powers across Europe have recognised that whilst we have growth in the economy (increase in the market value of goods and services) it is not inclusive growth. We have growing inequality, disadvantaged groups in the labour market are even more disadvantaged and traditional models of state delivered public services across Europe are unsustainable and completely inefficient in their ability to use new technologies. We have a widening and growing gap between the scale of the problems we face and the scale of the solutions.
We have been offering and delivering solutions in the third sector for decades but we are struggling to scale up these solutions. There is a growing momentum within Europe that in order to improve societies’ capacity to solve its own problems we need social and economic policies that nurture and boost social innovation and pay much more practical attention to social innovation. Vast amounts of money are spent by business and governments on innovation strategies to meet real or imagined consumer demand. Not one European country spends anything remotely comparable on social innovation solutions to meet common needs.
So here is your opportunity to join the conversation within Europe on how we scale up what we do and turn the attention to social innovation because future growth and well-being depend as much on social innovation as they do on a continuing stream of new businesses and technologies.