Empowering Social Innovation: The Competence Center for Social Innovation (CCSI) in Slovenia

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In the realm of social innovation, the Competence Center for Social Innovation (CCSI) in Slovenia has emerged as a catalyst for transformative change. Over the past two years, in collaboration with partners from Italy, Romania, and Greece, Slovenian stakeholders including the Ministry of Economy, Tourism, and Sports, Sončna Zadruga, Hashnet and Center Noordung, have embarked on a groundbreaking project called SEED. The project establish a framework for a national competence center with a special focus on creating the Digita Social Innovation Lab in Slovenia, which manifested as a collaborative online platform. This article delves into the multifaceted endeavors of CCSI and its innovative initiatives.

A Collaborative Approach:

Operating within a consortium partnership, CCSI defines its organizational structure through a consortium agreement, establishing partnerships between founding organizations, additional partners, and outlining the center’s governance model. By embracing a distributed management model, CCSI fosters inclusive collaboration among all its members, dispersing decision-making and responsibilities across the collective rather than centralizing them in a single entity.

Engaging Stakeholders:

Externally, CCSI (in the making) actively engages relevant stakeholders such as ministries, governmental agencies, businesses, social innovators, academia, traditional enterprises, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations. By fostering collaborations and partnerships, CCSI aims to create a cohesive network that promotes social innovation and supports its integration into national innovation ecosystems.

Harnessing Blockchain Technology:

To further strengthen its management structure, CCSI is embracing the concept of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) as a tool for governance and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the center’s activities and services. DAOs are decentralized entities operating on blockchain technology, enabling transparent and secure decision-making and cooperation among partners.

Projects ASIS and SEED:

Under the ASIS project, the exploration of social innovation has been undertaken, ensuring the active involvement of key stakeholders in its implementation. ASIS has resulted in the creation of a platform that remains operational even two years after the project’s conclusion. This platform serves as a repository of valuable resources, including documents, lectures, tools, and guidelines supporting the development and support of social innovation at both local and national levels.

The SEED project, on the other hand, represents a significant milestone in the evolution of CCSI. As one of the six consortia across Europe to receive funding from the European Commission’s European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Program for Employment and Social Innovation (RSF+), the consortium comprises 15 partners from Italy, Greece, Romania, and Slovenia.

Pioneering Activities and Results:

The project’s accomplishments span over various domains, shaping the landscape of social innovation in Slovenia:

Ecosystem Connectivity: CCSI has facilitated the collection of best practices from civil society, NGOs, associations, social enterprises, and individuals, as well as initiatives supported and financed by governmental bodies at local, regional, and national levels. Through the organization of networking events, roundtable discussions, and panels, CCSI fosters the exchange of these valuable experiences.

Organizational Model and DiSi Lab: The development of CCSI’s organizational model and core activities has led to the establishment of the Digital Social Innovation Lab, a virtual space for social innovations in Slovenia. Serving as a supportive environment, Digital Social Innovation Lab enables the creation, development, and implementation of innovative ideas, projects, and ventures aimed at achieving social impact through social innovation.

Methodologies and Education: The international partnership formulated a knowledge and tools repository accessible to the interested public. This repository offers a comprehensive collection of resources, which will also be available on the Digital Social Innovation Lab platform.

Sustainable Business Model and Policy Recommendations: The team is working on developing a sustainable business model for the competence center and shaping guidelines to integrate social innovations into national innovation strategies. The aim is to remove barriers hindering the utilization of social innovation’s potential and raise awareness among the wider public.

Looking Ahead:

As the CCSI in Slovenia moves forward, several key objectives stand out on its roadmap:

Establishing a Sustainable Partnership: The consortium formed under the SEED project will continue its collaborative activities, ensuring ongoing expertise and organizational contributions. The partners envision a decentralized autonomous organization model to facilitate sustained cooperation.

Activating the Online Platform: The CCSI will activate its web-based platform, integrating sustainable business models that include paid tools and service offerings. This platform will serve as a knowledge hub, providing access to a vast repository of tools, services, educational programs, workshops, conferences, funding opportunities, and fostering connections within the social innovation ecosystem.

Engaging in European Collaborations: The CCSI aims to participate in European project consortia, leveraging knowledge transfer from more advanced EU members. The Competence Centres for Social Innovation working group is gearing up for its kick-off meeting in Portugal on June 21st 2023. This event serves as a vital platform for collaboration and lays the foundation for future cooperation and activities in the field.

The European Competence Centre for Social Innovation is set to revolutionize the field by fostering transnational exchange, capacity building, and mutual learning among stakeholders. As a knowledge hub, its primary focus is to facilitate the transfer of best practices and scale up tested social innovations.

The European Competence Centre is dedicated to developing a professional infrastructure that connects social innovation stakeholders. By organizing transnational exchange and cooperation activities, it will bring together funders, support organizations, and national thematic experts. The Community of Practice on Social Innovation and Community-led Local Development will serve as a dynamic resource and dissemination channel for the Centre, propelling it towards its vision of becoming a European knowledge hub for social innovation.

The European Competence Centre for Social Innovation is poised to become a transformative force in the field of social innovation. By promoting transnational collaboration, knowledge sharing, and capacity building, it will serve as a hub for exchanging best practices and scaling up social innovations. Through the power of Communities of Practice and networks, stakeholders from across Europe will come together to drive impactful change and shape the future of social innovation.


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