Why is research in Social Innovation important for you?
I like to combine research and policy advice with mentoring of social innovators. Research is good to get the basics right which is rather difficult, given the novelty of the concept. Policy advising takes a lot of my energy, on the other hand, social innovators give me back much more of it. So I try to connect these fields to benefit from each other. I need the research to follow new methods, especially for evaluation of social innovation impact which is important for policy makers but also to businesses to get them engaged and for social innovators to be able to present effects of their activities. I also need to know about factors shaping social innovations in different contexts, as there are surprising similarities across countries in social innovations, but differences as well, especially in upscaling and system change capacities and achievements.
What is the biggest challenge for Social Innovation research?
There are so many challenges so it is difficult to say which one is the biggest. Maybe not to start surfing on the current buzz of Social Innovations (SI), as it seems easy to become an expert in this field. Another challenge is to process all the new information and research and transfer them into some structured and verified knowledge and practice. The field is developing so fast that there seems not enough time for evaluation of the ways open and followed. On the other hand, the buzz makes the field very attractive, especially for some sectoral and disciplinary crossovers which can be refreshing and inspiring.
What result can we expect from SI-DRIVE?
I expect new methodologies for analyzing and evaluating social innovations, or SI-practices, in diverse contexts, given the global scope of the project and the diversity of the consortium members. To what extent are the practices from diverse contexts transferable, comparable, to what extent they can learn from each other and fuse.
Which book or article about social innovation should everybody read?
Most recently I became interested in the topic of co-creating economic and social values and in effective, mutually beneficial, cooperation of diverse institutional sectors. More specifically, the engagement of business sector as creator of social impact through social business strategies can bring new and very effective actors in social innovation field. I would not recommend one specific item, I would rather recommend to find some time to look beyond the current focus which we are following – new continent, new institutional sector, new practice, new target group.