Revitalising rural areas through social innovation
From local recycling schemes to community-led business start-ups, social innovation can drive the revitalisation of marginalised areas where markets and public administrations have failed. EU-funded researchers are studying examples of social innovation and exploring how best practices can be shared across Europe and beyond.
© sanedor #201132665 , source: fotolia.com 2018
The EU-funded SIMRA project is focusing on community-led social innovation initiatives in Europe and across the Mediterranean region with an impact on agriculture, forestry and rural development in particular. The aim is to share successful ideas and best-practice examples more widely, overcoming barriers to the exchange of knowledge, and bridging the gap between research, policymaking and the implementation of practical solutions.
These initiatives often emerge where mainstream approaches to development have not worked or have not been attempted for geographic or demographic reasons. As such, social innovation responds to needs and demands of local populations which markets or existing institutions either do not traditionally address or fail to address adequately.
Led by people on the ground, these projects can have a significant impact in rural and marginalised areas, providing novel solutions to local challenges, revitalising communities and accelerating economic development.
The SIMRA team is studying hundreds of current examples of social innovation and innovation governance in different regions and countries to determine the drivers behind the projects, the factors that contribute to their success or failure, and their broader effects.
Efforts will be supported by collaborative learning and networking opportunities within the project. The team will also develop a database of social innovation initiatives combined with evaluation frameworks and tools to effectively assess innovation strategies and their impacts.
With 26 partners across 14 countries (including non-European countries), SIMRA is bringing together scientists, businesses, governments, civil society and local communities to build capacity for social innovation, supporting the development of sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by rural and marginalised areas today.