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Digital social innovation: what it is and what we are doing

This report summarises our research on digital social innovation across Europe and outlines policy recommendations for the European Commission.

This report summarises our research on digital social innovation across Europe and outlines policy recommendations for the European Commission.

Key findings

  • Through crowdmapping organisations on www.digitalsocial.eu, we have mapped 1,036 organisations with 646 collaborative DSI projects.
  • Our study showed the diversity of the field, but also that many innovations can be understood as manifestations of four main technological trends: Open Hardware, Open Networks, Open Data and Open Knowledge.

Digital technologies are particularly well suited to helping civic action: mobilising large communities, sharing resources and spreading power. A growing movement of tech entrepreneurs and innovators in civil society are now developing inspiring digital solutions to social challenges.

Over the last 18 months Nesta, funded by the European Commission, has led a large research project into digital social innovation (DSI). The project examined the potential of DSI, mapped the digital social innovators, their projects and networks, and developed recommendations for how policymakers from the EU to city level can make the most of DSI. This report summarises what we found.

Policy Recommendations

  • Make it easier to create new digital SI through regulatory and funding measures specifically targeted at supporting DSI
  • Make it easier to grow and spread DSI through public procurement, support for evidence generation, common standards and integration with public services
  • Increase the potential value of digital SI (e.g. making available open data, ubiquitous broadband, open standards and supporting innovation spaces)
  • Enable some of the radical and disruptive innovations emerging from DSI – such as new approaches to money, consumption, education and health
  • Expand the European digital social innovation network and invest in the development of skills and capacity to do Digital Social Innovation

Authors

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Francesca Bria

Senior Project Lead

Francesca Bria was a Senior Project Lead in the Innovation Lab. She was EU Coordinator of the D-CENT project on direct democracy and social digital currencies and principle investiga...

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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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