Module 7

Social Innovation Policies

Welcome to Module 7: Social Innovation Policies - Make use of or influence policies for social innovation!

Social innovation doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In this last module, you’ll learn how a good policy environment can promote social innovation or even act as policy itself.

One of the key preconditions of realising the potential of Social Innovation is a supporting policy environment at the relevant administrative - governmental levels (national, regional, local). In the European Union there are administrative levels where adequate policies are already in place and fostering the Social Innovation-ecosystem, for example the operation of social enterprises in various Member States (Policy FOR social innovation). This module enables various stakeholders in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond to understand the nature, scope and instruments of policies “FOR”- and “AS” social innovation.

This module provides insights for a wide range of stakeholders - social entrepreneurs, representatives of civil society, financial intermediaries, academia, and policymakers - who are essential in designing, financing and promoting social innovation. Policymakers could gain insights into adaptable good examples of tools, processes and approaches that are developed elsewhere and already deliver results. Once empowered, stakeholders can also urge policymakers to adopt new practices and processes.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should have gained a basic understanding about various elements of social innovation policies, including:

  • policy for social innovation: funding, regulation, procurement, use of assets, and awareness raising
  • policy as social innovation: challenge-focused, openness, human-centred designing, collaboration and co-design, and evidence-based experimentation.

Sound interesting? Click through to learn more!


Are you wondering what is the power of policies in paving the way for Social Innovation processes? Watch this last Lecture Video of our MOOC and find out yourself!

If you want to have a look at all the lecture videos\' scripts of this module in your own language, please see the bottom of this page, below all the lecture videos, for downloading the script in your respective language.

Lecture 1

Social Innovation Policies

Lecture playlist

Lecture 1

Social Innovation Policies


Additional materials and transcripts

Infographic on Social Innovation Policies

If you feel like there are a lot of information to store in your brain, don’t worry! We provided you with the following Infographic where you’ll find a quick recap about what is most important to know regarding Policy Making for Social Innovation initiatives.

Expert Interviews

Now that you had an introduction to what’s the role of Policy Making in Social Innovation you are ready to hear from our Experts.

In this Expert Video Carolina and Grzegorz, who both work for the European Commission\'s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), are going to give an interesting overview over the European Social Innovation ecosystem. Discover in which direction Europe is going, which are its main challenges and opportunities regarding the Social Innovation landscape.

Carolina is the manager of the Innovation Competition and of the Social Challenges Innovation Platform. She is in charge of coordinating the social innovation-related aspects of the Industry Days. She also provides policy input for the High-Level Industrial Roundtable "Industry 2030". Carolina has a background working for the future Research and Innovation Framework, where she aims at maximising the benefits of research and innovation to support the industrial transformation and the creation of suitable innovation ecosystems in all regions of Europe.

Grzegorz is in charge of the European industrial policy, coordinating EU efforts to master the new industrial revolution. He is also responsible for the European Industry Day and the High-Level Industrial Roundtable "Industry 2030". Grzegorz also focuses on social innovation and supporting grassroots ideas: apart from general policy issues he is involved in the European Social Innovation Competition and the Social Challenges Innovation Platform.

NB. The video was shoot in 2018 before the Social innovation Competition winners were announced. If you want to know more, check out the following link:

Tool and Assignment

Social Innovation Policy Framework

Use the following tool to build an effective Social Innovation Policy. Follow the steps suggested and you surely won\'t get lost facing the current policy challenges.

Additional Readings

That wraps up our unit on social innovation policy.
The learning doesn’t end here though! Voluntary readings may serve to dive deeper into specific topics.
We’ve arranged them by subject for your convenience and encourage you to study them individually or discuss them down below in the discussion section.

Webinar: Social Innovation Policies - What role can hybrid business models play in generating social innovation?

The ever-changing organisational environment and the increasing popularity of SDGs has made it indispensable to rethink the concept of value creation and to create cross-sectoral collaborations to achieve our goals. The trend of change justifies the development of hybrid business models: the hybrid business model is more than a model of the dual role of social enterprises, as it places emphasis on cross-sectoral cooperation, highlighting policy makers (government), NGOs and companies as key players.

In the hybrid business model, the NGO understands local community problems intimately, the government is responsive to the needs of the community through sound policy, land use arrangements and transparency, and businesses work with both to serve the poor as a customer, partner, employee and supplier. This is particularly true for cross-sector provision of public (welfare) services, for which the sectors cooperate (joint venture).

The purpose of the webinar is to demonstrate the essence and role of the hybrid business model in the development of sustainable business operations from both a business and a social perspective through concrete examples and case studies,

Our expert will work with participants to answer the following questions:

  • What is the role of the hybrid business model in initiating cross-sectoral dialogue and cooperation in generating social innovation?
  • How does the model relate to social innovation and the policy level?
  • What concrete examples and business models can be used to understand hybrid operation?

About Centre for Social Innovation (Heidelberg University)

The Centre for Social Investment (CSI) is a research centre at the Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology in the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of Heidelberg University. It sees itself as an interdisciplinary centre in research, education and training as well as a transdisciplinary partner for the third sector. The central research topics of the CSI are, in addition to the eponymous social investments and innovations, foundations, civil society and the social economy. Special attention is paid to innovative cross-border research - be it between sectors or between forms of organizations. CSI research aims to contribute to the shaping of self-perceptions of the third sector, to analyze its legal, economic and social framework conditions, and to contribute to increasing the effectiveness of social enterprises.

About the Expert

Dr. Volker Then is the managing director of the Center for Social Investment and Innovation (CSI) at Heidelberg University. As founding director of the CSI, he has combined an interest in socially relevant research with a commitment to effective practice since 2006. His ongoing thematic interests include civil society and intermediary institutions, social capital, but also effective foundation work, strategy development by organizations and social impact measurement. In addition to publications, he devotes himself intensively to other forms of conveying research findings in politics and practice. These include appointments to political advisory bodies such as the National Advisory Board of the G8 Social Impact Investment Task Force since 2014, expert hearings and briefings in the EU Parliament and the Bundestag, speeches at scientific, but above all professional, practical conferences, as well as numerous honorary committee memberships in Foundations, publications, or associations in the non-profit sector. He was a member of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (1999-2002), the Governing Council (2000-2006) and the International Committee (2000-2006) of the European Foundation Center in Brussels.

Table of contents

Academy Modules
Active citizenship
Social Business
Technology & Creativity for Social Innovation
Stakeholder Engagement
Impact Assessment
Impact Finance
Social Innovation Policies
Roots of Impact
pontis foundation

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