“New technologies and digitization: opportunities and challenges for the social economy and social entrepreneurship”

The study is set out to examine, benchmark and diffuse initiatives and social policy innovation practices, necessary for promoting a successful approach to the social economy and social enterprises. The raison d’être is to explore opportunities and challenges that digital technologies pose for the social economy and social enterprises and obtain a better understanding of the ways in which the design and implementation of EU and national policies and initiatives can support the digitisation and uptake of novel digital technologies for the social economy and by social economy enterprises. Thus, the challenges we address involve:
  • The gap in between current digital skills, the capacity of social economy enterprises and what is actually needed;
  • The lack of knowledge-sharing between social innovators and between public authorities on good practices and their key design and implementation points; and
  • The lack of data and research about the specific impact of digitalisation on the governance, models and strategies of social enterprises.
The overall strategic aim of the study is summarised into the following operational objectives:
  • Objective 1: Identification and promotion of good practices and lessons learnt on the impact of digitalisation on social entrepreneurship and the social economy. In this repsect, a number of case studies will be identified in 4 EU countries (Italy, Netherland, Greece and the United Kingdom);
  • Objective 2: Vision potential future trajectories of digital platforms, open source and disruptive technologies and their consequent implications upon the social economy and social entrepreneurship (in terms of impact and business models);
  • Objective 3: Explore how public authorities define their digital technology priorities, and the contribution of social economy/social entrepreneurship in this process;
  • Objective 4: Formulation of practical recommendations for policymakers as well as social entrepreneurs on the promotion/uptake/scale-up/scale-out of digital technologies for social entrepreneurship/social economy.
The study is carried out by Q-PLAN INTERNATIONAL (lead), the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the University of Manchester and the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology and the following subcontractors: Dr F. Niglia and Dr V. Kostakis. Finally, the study is funded from the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).