What is it about?

Research on social innovation has gained momentum in recent years. This article reflects on common features and differences between social innovation and other forms of innovation, and the resulting requirements for a favourable environment, i.e., Social Innovation Ecosystem (SIES). Drawing on data from the two European research projects, SIMPACT and SI-DRIVE, the article reflects on SIES from a regional innovation systems perspective as an analytical framework and strategic and management concept.

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Why is it important?

research on social innovation has gained momentum in recent years. While significant progress has been made regarding the theoretical foundation of social innovation, the ‘ecosystem’ facilitating respective innovative activities remains vague and ambiguous. Hence We argued that, due to a multiplicity of social innovation activities and their local embeddedness, no best solution for SIES exists. We posit that establishing a SIES necessitates (1) modes of governance that integrate actors from civil society and the social, economic and academic field; (2) social innovation hubs, labs and transfer centres as intermediaries that accelerate social innovation activities; and (3) the integration of different modes of innovation in transformational innovation strategies.


Giving social innovators, policymakers, and intermediaries a voice to grasp their needs and views on an ecosystem was an important step to advancing our understanding of favourable framework conditions. I was truly impressed by the actors' engagement and strategies to cope with constraint situations.

Dr Judith Terstriep
Westphalian University Gelsenkirchen, Institute for Work and Technology

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This page is a summary of: Favourable social innovation ecosystem(s)? – An explorative approach, European Planning Studies, January 2020, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2019.1708868.
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