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Scottish social innovation in focus

Delegates of the Scottish social innovation workshop in Aberdeen (c) Hutton
"In fields as diverse as community land ownership, social care, social housing provision, cultural services and environmental projects, social innovation is driving place-based rural development"

How can social innovation change the face of rural areas in Scotland? What are the most appropriate approaches, methods and tools to assess social innovation? What does policy support of social innovation mean in the Scottish context? These questions along with many others were at the heart of a workshop held at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and led by researchers of the EU-funded SIMRA (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas) project.

Professor Maria Nijnik, principal research scientist at the James Hutton Institute's Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group and SIMRA project coordinator, said the workshop was held in the context of the Scottish Government’s efforts to improve and develop innovation across the rural economy in Scotland.

“In fields as diverse as community land ownership, social care, social housing provision, cultural services and environmental projects, social innovation is driving place-based rural development.

“In the context of the SIMRA research project, the James Hutton Institute is researching how social innovation arises, what drives its success and how it can address challenges in marginal rural areas. It was great to exchange ideas with practitioners already working on social innovation in Scotland,” Professor Nijnik said.

The Aberdeen workshop included interventions by Graeme Beale (Scottish Government), Roger Goodyear (Portsoy Community Enterprise), Bill Slee (Rural Development Company), Tom Cooper (Glengarry Community Woodlands), Bianca Ambrose-Oji (Forestry Commission), Garth Entwistle (Udny Community Trust) and Hutton researcher Richard Hewitt.

Social innovation topics covered included actions to support community capacity; experiences with communities and small businesses related to forestry; and community energy. The presentations were followed by focus groups around key themes: enablers and barriers for community-driven innovations; facilitating community projects; and research priorities for social innovation in rural areas.

Following the workshop in Aberdeen, the Scottish Government will hold a similar event in Brussels on 7th June, aimed at showcasing Scottish experiences of enhancing innovation in rural areas, bringing together policy makers with those involved in practical implementation of rural innovation projects. Professors Maria Nijnik and David Miller will represent the James Hutton Institute and the SIMRA project at the event.

SIMRA is a research initiative funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 677622, and also supported by the Rural & Environment Science & Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government.

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Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

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Printed from /news/scottish-social-innovation-focus on 23/06/18 11:11:29 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.