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On the potential of ICT-enabled social innovation for social policy

In an experts workshop in Brussels on February 24/25 the IESI team presented their first mapping results, introducing a first set of initiatives which might drive or influence social policy reforms. The project team shared and discussed the results of the first mapping phase with a group of 25 experts from the fields of (digital) social innovation and inclusion, including Christoph Kaletka and Bastian Pelka (TU Dortmund).

IESI_workshop “Social investment relies on social innovation, and social innovation is vital for supporting welfare systems reform”, says Gianluca Misuraca, coordinator of the IESI project. IESI (ICT enabled Social Innovation in support to the Implementation of the Social Investment Package) is mapping ICT-enabled social innovation initiatives which support the European Union’s Social Investment Package.

The ICT-enabled “cases” presented can be found in very diverse fields of practice such as learning and education, governance, active and healthy ageing, the inclusion of immigrants and ethnic minorities, youth and digital inclusion. A distinct focus of the workshop was on the impact assessment approach and the question how reliable evidence can be produced to support well-informed policy decisions.

There was a vivid discussion among the experts group on how to learn the most from the in-depth case analyses which will follow in the next steps of the project. Recommendations include:

  • Find out if and how users are involved and play an active role in the initiative.
  • Describe the conditions under which the initiatives have flourished, and respect the different local and regional framework conditions which challenge every scaling process.
  • Analyse the specific role of ICT for the initiative and point out whether the innovative impulse comes from new / improved ICT solutions or if standard ICT is a merely enabling factor.
  • Take into account the diversity of vulnerable target groups in ICT-enabled social innovation initiatives, not merely as beneficiaries but as stakeholders and co-creators.
  • Start a dialogue with other social innovation projects which are also building databases and analyzing cases from different angles in order to create synergies and overarching results.


The IESI interim report (available under http://is.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pages/EAP/documents/20150206_IESI_D121_DRAFT_V20_JRC-IPTS_DEF.pdf ) presents the results of the mapping and analysis of policy-relevant initiatives gathered during the first year of the research in the domain of integrated approaches to social services provision. This exercise will be updated and expanded further during the remaining two years of the research. The analysis builds on a review of existing literature and theoretical approaches and aims to define the state of the art in the field under investigation and develop the conceptual and analytical framework for the research.