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Social Innovation through Knowledge Exchange: SIKE Event at TU Dortmund University

The SIKE project visited the region of North Rhine-Westphalia and learned about its social innovation ecosystem. In this context, Dmitri Domanski and Sabrina Janz of TU Dortmund University organised an event, where project partners and social innovation actors from the region discussed the challenges of knowledge exchange and multi-sectoral collaboration. The event took place on February 5th at the Social Research Centre (sfs) of TU Dortmund University, one of the project partners.

SIKE_Event_sfs_Dortmund

The project SIKE – “Social Innovation through Knowledge Exchange” aims at strengthening the regional social innovation ecosystems in five different European states, while improving the collaboration between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and practitioners from other societal sectors.

From the 4th to the 7th of February, SIKE project partners from Croatia, Portugal, Scotland and Spain visited Dortmund in order to reflect on current and future developments of the project and to learn about social innovation in the Ruhr Region and North Rhine-Westphalia. In this context, Dmitri Domanski and Sabrina Janz organised an event on February 5th, where different inputs were presented in order to illustrate and discuss the main issues with regard to social innovation and knowledge exchange.

As moderator of the event, Dmitri Domanski introduced speakers such as Prof. Jürgen Howaldt, director of the Social Research Centre (sfs) of TU Dortmund University, who reflected on the role of academia in social innovation. In order to do so, he shared the main findings from the project SI-DRIVE. Mark Anderson, director of Research and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian University as well as project coordinator of SIKE, presented the experience of his university which includes numerous Erasmus+ projects in the area of social innovation, such as LASIN and SEASIN.

The initiative KoSI-Lab was introduced by Eva Wascher from TU Dortmund University and Arne Elias from the City of Dortmund Economic Development Agency (Wirtschaftsförderung Dortmund). Additionally, Dirk Johann (Catholic University of Applied Sciences Cologne) and Jens Koller (Protestant University of Applied Sciences) described how the “Network for Transfer and Social Innovation - s_inn” makes a strong contribution to regional development, focussing on the third mission.

From a practitioners’ view, Theresa Zöckler of Social Impact Lab Bonn talked about her organisation’s work in the field of social innovation. Furthermore, Javier Finez of Business Innovation Brokers referred to the social innovation ecosystem in the Basque Country.

The second half of the event had an entirely interactive character, since the participants were encouraged to discuss about how to shape and improve knowledge exchange between different societal sectors. One of the major points of discussion was the question how to integrate social innovation along the three missions of universities – teaching, research and the third mission. Besides that, the participants of the event debated on the question how to spread knowledge from universities to practitioners and, at the same time, how universities can benefit from the practitioners’ knowledge.

Visit at the social innovation initiative PIKSL and "nordwärts"

On the next day, the project partners traveled to Düsseldorf to visit the social innovation initiative PIKSL and join a workshop, which was organized by Christoph Kaletka and Jennifer Eckhardt from TU Dortmund University. Finally, on February 7th, the initiative “nordwärts” opened its gates for the SIKE project.

Harriet Ellwein from the municipality of Dortmund introduced the initiative and presented the most important information about Nordwärts. Afterwards, the project partners had the opportunity to ask questions and to learn how cooperation with HEIs can contribute to the development of such a local initiative.

The site visit to North Rhine-Westphalia revealed similarities between the participating regions, demonstrated the potential of generally applicable concepts and helped to develop the international social innovation community. The next site visit in the SIKE project will take place in Spain and in Portugal in March.