In this paper some ongoing tendencies of Social Innovation (SI) in the EU and its relation to the smart specialisation (S3) approach are discussed. The analysis is limited to the energy field, particularly to the context of renewable energy production, energy efficiency measures and heating and cooling. The paper is part of the policy support provided by the Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3PEnergy) to EU regions and member states . Therefore the focus has been put on Smart Specialisation, and the relevance of such SI initiatives for economic development and potential upscaling in regions, and for an increased proactive consumer involvement.
Smart specialisation is a regional policy framework for innovation driven growth. It helps to focus resources on key national and regional priorities, challenges, and needs for knowledge-based development. S3 is a bottom-up process relying on an entrepreneurial discovery process, which involves various stakeholders such as businesses, private stakeholders and policy makers for capacity and priority identification. It is evidence based and includes sound identification of priorities, monitoring and evaluation (RIS 3 guide, 2012; OECD, 2013)
The social innovation approach is disaggregated here in the categories of organisational, social, financial, educational and business. Case studies were developed to understand the character of those categories.