environments and which social needs and societal challenges they address,” says Björn Budde, Scientist in the AIT Innovati- on Systems Department.


Social innovation often happens when people identify unresol- ved social problems and do something about it themselves, such as in the current economic situation. Or when new tech- nologies facilitate networking for citizens, enabling them to take existing problems or needs into their own hands. This gi- ves rise to things like urban vegetable plots or citizen power plants, where people combine their resources to erect new so- lar or wind farms. Over 1,000 examples of social innovation worldwide, seeking new ways of meeting social needs will now enable a substantiated analysis and typology of social innovati- on. “Our objective is also to provide both policy and other deci- sion makers with relevant decision support,” says Budde. To this end, the team conducts extensive analyses and case stu- dies in seven policy areas and carries out worldwide compari- sons between regions. Future-oriented courses of action and possible policy strategies that build on these results will be developed and discussed in the context of foresight and policy workshops. The EU project includes 15 European partners and ten international partners.

AIT Scientist Björn Budde, for instance, is lea- ding the work package “Social Innovation in the policy field Environment and Climate Change”. AIT is also involved in the Energy, Mobility/Transport and Health work packages and co-leads the Foresight & Policy work pa- ckage together with TNO from the Nether- lands. This broad involvement is an indicator of AIT’s important role and expertise in the area of innovation research, socio-technical innovation and foresight, which make an im- portant contribution to the project and which are recognised and needed at European level.

“There’s a lot happening in Europe at the mo- ment in terms of social innovation,” says AIT scientist Budde, “and so it is even more im- portant, – for policy makers as well – that the topic is viewed and examined from a sound empirical basis.”


Scientist, AIT Innovation Systems Department

There’s a lot happening in Europe at the moment in terms of social innovation.