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Congress “Innovation for Society”

How does interaction between human beings change if there is change in the economic environment, and what kind of consequences does Industry 4.0 have on life of individuals? This is only one of the many topics of social innovation. To bring together the different topical areas and actors research scientists hosted a two-day congress in Berlin on September 20th and 21st 2016 which was opened with a speech by the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof Johanna Wanka.

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Headed by the Sozialforschungsstelle, scientists from 25 renowned research institutions from all over Europe, Africa, the United States, South America, Asia and Australia, conduct research within the key project “SI-Drive – Social Innovation: Driving Force of Social change”. The congress “Innovation for Society – New ways and methods to unfold the potential of social innovation” in Berlin offered opportunities for international exchange between scientists from all over the world on the topic. This event had been conducted by the Sozialforschungsstelle in cooperation with the Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS) of the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie, and had been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The leading topic of the congress was the discussion on new ways of unfolding the potentials of social innovation.

For the first time, the two-day congress enabled initiatives and communities on the subject of social innovation in Germany to come together, thus providing a platform for networking between actors.

Prof Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research, said: “For a long time already we have been integrating issues of society into our research programme. There can only be real benefit – for individuals and society as a whole – if we make both technical and social aspects come together.”

Prof Dr Jürgen Howaldt of TU Dortmund referred to the broad dissemination of social innovation within international contexts. Above that, Prof Dr Armin Grunwald (ITAS) underlined that the transformative processes of the present age cannot be managed without social innovation. Hence, both argue that there is a need to purposefully combine all the available skills to develop and disseminate social innovation on the national level. It will be necessary to discuss and design new ways and methods to unfold the potential of social innovation.