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Social innovation to promote rural growth across Europe and the Mediterranean

SIMRA researchers met in Aberdeen (c) James Hutton Institute
“Social innovation manifests itself in new social relationships and collaborations. It seeks to promote the development and uptake of new services and new fields of activity, such as social entrepreneurship and social enterprises that improve the quality of life of individuals and communities.

Scientists from across Europe and the wider Mediterranean area met at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, to mark the start of a 4-year project addressing some of the most important social challenges faced by rural areas. The Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) project, supported with €5.5m from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme, aims to understand and enhance social innovation.

Professor Maria Nijnik, SIMRA project coordinator, working at the James Hutton Institute’s Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences group, said: “Social innovation responds to demands that are traditionally not addressed by markets or existing institutions, and that the challenge for this international team is to advance knowledge and to promote implementation of social innovation in marginalised rural areas.

“Social innovation manifests itself in new social relationships and collaborations. It seeks to promote the development and uptake of new services and new fields of activity, such as social entrepreneurship and social enterprises that improve the quality of life of individuals and communities.”

According to Professor Nijnik, examples of social innovation are community-owned renewable energy initiatives and social enterprises which help disadvantaged groups gain access to work as well as to healthcare, and can include new institutional arrangements, while governance mechanisms based on new social networks advance social capital and can create new social innovations.

“The SIMRA team, led by the James Hutton Institute, will study what characterises successful social innovation, in areas as varied as north-west Europe and Scandanavia, the Mediterranean and North Africa region, Alpine, and Central and Eastern Europe. It will work with those initiating or benefiting from social innovations to learn about stakeholders/end-users motivations and experiences of support or barriers encountered.”

The team comprises members from 15 countries from across the European Union and the wider Mediterranean area, and associated international networks.  A number of other countries, including from North Africa and East Europe, will be involved as contributors to case studies and SIMRA supporters coming from the South and South-Eastern European Mountain Network, FLEG II, the Carpathian Network S4C, and the UNEP, FAO, IUFRO, ECOFOR, Earth System Governance, and others, including the Ecosystem Services Community Scotland.  

The project consortium consists of 10 public bodies (8 universities and two research institutes), eight not-for-profit organisations, five small and medium enterprises, NGOs and networks, and three international organisations.  Details of partners and other information about SIMRA are available from the project page on the Cordis website.

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Printed from /news/social-innovation-promote-rural-growth-across-europe-and-mediterranean on 24/01/19 07:21:57 AM

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.