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European Innovation Council
News announcement15 September 2021European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency3 min read

Putting social innovation in the spotlight

The 2021 European Social Innovators’ Insight Report, a new publication from the European Social Innovation Competition, is now available for download.

Social Innovation - report


With a focus on distinct areas across Europe and the Horizon Europe countries, the report shines a spotlight on the diversity of social innovation across these countries, while also providing an overview of the national support structures, important stakeholders, and resources available to companies working in the area of social innovation.

With the broad goal of generating a conceptual understanding and definition of social innovation and related concepts in the target countries, the European Social Innovators’ Insight Report sheds light on Europe’s social innovation ecosystems – both at the national and European level.

Trends and developments

The report also highlights research areas that have received little attention to date, presents an overview of European trends and developments, showcases inspiring examples from social innovators across Europe and underlines the significant positive impact social innovation can create for people, communities and the environment.

The report will act as a first reference point for social innovators and change-makers in the target countries, informing them on the specific approaches taken in each country. As such, it will be a valuable resource for social innovators and policy-makers alike.

In addition to desk research, in compiling the report, interviews were conducted with alumni of the European Social Innovation Competition, yielding first-hand information on opportunities and potential challenges in the target countries.

European Social Innovators’ Insight Report – at a glance

  • France: Access to finance remains a key challenge for social innovators despite a well-established investment community.
  • Latvia: The social innovation ecosystem in Latvia, although growing, is still in its infancy.
  • Norway: Politically, the visibility and awareness of social innovation and social entrepreneurship has increased significantly with a consensus on the concept’s high potential for the welfare system.
  • Romania: As far as financing opportunities are concerned, the main public support mechanisms addressed to social enterprises are promoted by the EU Funds, specifically the ESF+.
  • Spain: The social economy in Spain appears to be quite institutionalised and diverse, partly due to the many layers characterising the Spanish administrative structure, at national and local levels.
  • Sweden: The Swedish social innovation network is perceived as open and collaborative. Events between politicians, innovative leaders and other relevant stakeholders are organised on a regular basis.

Creating an enabling environment

Realising the potential of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in tackling pressing societal challenges, the European Commission has been working to promote social innovation as a source of growth and job creation. This includes sharing information about social innovation in Europe, and supporting innovative entrepreneurs and mobilising investors and public organisations. The new European Social Innovators’ Insight Report will make a valuable contribution in this regard.

The overarching goal of these efforts is to create an enabling environment for European social innovators and change-makers. Furthermore, with milestone policies and funding initiatives such as the Innovation Union Initiative, the Social Business Initiative, the Start-Up and Scale Up Initiative, Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe; and the current Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) strand of European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the European Union has been paving the way for the creation, uptake and scaling of socially innovative solutions.

These efforts are paying off and, all over Europe, innovative change-makers are increasingly contributing to the creation of jobs, social inclusion and the equalling of opportunity.


The European Social Innovation Competition was launched in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition is a competition run by the European Commission, with support from the European Innovation Council across all EU Member States and Horizon Europe associated countries. Now in its 9th year, the Competition acts as a beacon for social innovators in Europe, employing a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping society for the better.

Each year, three €50,000 prizes are awarded for the best socially innovative projects designed to change the world for the better. The Competition supports the development of early-stage ideas through business accelerator support such as mentoring and coaching and the facilitation of a peer network of social innovators shaping European society for the better.

The Competition addresses a different issue facing Europe and our societies each year. The 2021 theme is: “Skills for tomorrow – Shaping a green and digital future”.

Find more information on this year’s Challenge Prize. If you have any questions, please contact us at infoatsocialinnovationprize [dot] eu (info[at]socialinnovationprize[dot]eu).


Publication date
15 September 2021
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency