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100 inspiring digital social innovations

Digital Social Innovation has been attracting a lot of attention lately. The term is a relatively new one, and as such it is contested, but broadly it can be defined as...

‘a type of social and collaborative innovation in which innovators, users and communities collaborate using digital technologies to co-create knowledge and solutions for a wide range of social needs and at a scale that was unimaginable before the rise of Internet-enabled platforms’

Little research has been done to date to understand the potential for digital technologies to achieve social impact? This is one of the big questions that we have been trying to answer in our research project into Digital Social Innovation.

Mapping the field of new types of Digital Social Innovation, is exciting, but also a big and challenging task. Luckily, we are not alone. This week our friends at the Nominet Trust launched findings from their NT100 project, which has sought to identify ‘the 100 most inspiring social tech solutions from around the world’.

The Social Tech website is an inspiring resource for anyone interested in understanding the potential of digital technologies to achieve social impact in as diverse fields as economic empowerment, education and health. In the spirit of ‘proudly found elsewhere; we will ‘copy’ and add organisations who aren’t on it already to our digitalsocial.eu network map of organisations involved in supporting or delivering DSI activities.

How to support Digital Social Innovation to grow

However, looking at the case studies we have identified as part of our work and the many NT100 examples can both be an inspiring as well as a slightly frustrating exercise. Inspiring, because these great examples show the massive potential in tech for good. Frustrating, because, bar a couple of exceptions such as Github, Arduino and Patients Like Me, the majority of these initiatives are relatively small scale and sit on the periphery of the mainstream.

What conditions foster and then scale the work of organisations like Your Priorities and Open Ministry on crowdsourcing legislation? Or Tyze on creating online personal networks for people with care needs? Or Zooniverses pioneering work on citizen science?

Entrepreneurship will play its part, but we are also keen to understand the policies, strategies and funding mechanisms the EU, national regional and local government might apply to support digital social innovation in Europe, so we go from inspiring stories to mass market adoption. This is the focus for our next phase of research, which we will begin in December.

In the meantime, what do you think are the most succesfull tools policy makers and funders could apply to support DSI? Let us know in the comments below.

Author

Jon Kingsbury

Jon Kingsbury

Jon Kingsbury

Director, Creative Economy Programmes

Jon led the inter-disciplinary team that designs, commissions and delivers multi-million pound innovation programmes that help the creative and digital economy.

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Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Peter Baeck

Head of Collaborative Economy Research

Peter focuses on the collaborative economy, crowdfunding, P2P lending and the role of digital technolgies in public and social innovation. Peter lead much of Nesta's research into cr...

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