Sinnergiak (UPV/EHU) took part in the III Forum on Social Innovation on behalf of the SIC project.

How can public policies boost social innovation? Possible answers to this question were debated by the participants to the III Forum on Social Innovation, led by Jovesolides Foundation and CreActiva Network, held in Valencia on March 30th and 31st.


The Forum was inaugurated by:

  • Francisco José Mora, Rector of the Polytechnic University of Valencia
  • Zulima Pérez Seguí, Autonomous secretariat of Transparency, Social Responsibility and Participation of the Valencia Government,
  • Jesús Damián Martí, General Secretary of IVAJ
  • Andrés García Reche, Innovation Agency of Valencia
  • Trini Blanch, President of the Coordinating Committee of NGOs
  • Lourdes Mirón, President of Jovesolides Foundation

Comprising of Master presentations, mini-speeches, speed networking sessions and a participatory workshop (GIGALAB), the event brought together around 300 people from different sectors and nationalities across Europe – from civil servants and local government to researchers and social innovators.

The two main lectures of the Forum were given by Maria Elisa Bernal, a Colombian economist, an expert on Public Policies in Latin America and by Carlo Ratti, Italian architecture, an expert on smart cities.

In the opening lecture, Maria Elisa Bernal introduced the topic of Social Innovation and Public Policies giving some characteristics that should be present in a social innovation, some of them are:

  • Social Innovation has to be embedded in Public Policies.
  • Social Innovation has to combat Poverty in any of its dimensions (not only the income one).
  • Social Innovation has to face exclusion and inequalities that affect many vulnerable groups.
  • Social Innovation must have the capability to make rights be exercised.
  • Social Innovation models have to promote active civic participation.

In her speech, the Colombian economists made the connection between social innovation and the Welfare states and thus she stated that “creativity emerges when wellbeing systems are weak, as it has recently happened in Europe with the crisis”. In this new situation, it is required the encounter of new effective ways for delivering services to society.

In addition, Maria Elisa Bernal acknowledged the importance of the public sector in boosting social innovation and also recognised that public sector faces many barriers as:

  • Its structure itself is a limit. social innovation demands a process of trial and error and the public-sector institutions have been made to do things right.
  • The development and establishment of the social innovation require greater time to the terms of a government.

Carlo Ratti, founder and executive manager of Senseable City Lab at MIT, was in charge of offering the closing lecture of the forum. During his lecture, he presented different urban changes that, through the new technologies, can turn big cities into livable and sustainable spaces, starting from social innovations and entrepreneurship initiatives.

Ratti stressed that the combination of gathered data and new technologies will change not only the appearance of the cities but also the way of living on them. In this sense, the sharing economy is a new way to boost this shift. For example, the sharing of cars, among people doing the same trip, could result in a reduction of the 80% of the existing car-park of our cities which will have positive impacts as the reduction in the level of pollution or the use of new spaces for public life. Finally, he said that the cities of the future will be more innovative, more comfortable to live and more environmentally-friendly.

Along with these two presentations, the insights about social innovation from the public-sector perspective were introduced by Monica Otra, vice-president and councillor of Equity and Inclusive Policies of the Regional Government of Valencia. She stated that social innovation is a key input to the economic transformation, giving to it the social aspect that it is needed. In this sense, the role of the public-sector for boosting social innovation is relevant but it is also mandatory the co-creation of public policies jointly with the civil organisations. In this sense, she emphasised that in Valencia some initiatives, labs and workshops are being put into practice to set the collective intelligence to the service of Public Policies.

In the III Forum on Social Innovation, participants were able to learn about some social innovation initiatives emerged from different spheres, such as:

  • Social Innovation and Art. The art as a tool for the Social Change
  • Social Innovation and Social Economy. The case of Road4World
  • Social Innovation and Fashion
  • Social Innovation in the Arabic countries
  • Social Innovation and Functional diversity. The case of BATEC
  • Social Innovation and Digital Social Innovation in the Mediterranean Countries.
  • Social Innovation and the Scaling process. Mass participation in building resilient Neighbourhoods

In addition, there was also time for the experimentation and the debate. On one hand, in the first day of the forum, it was opened a space to experiment an innovative methodology, based on the gamification (Factor5), to apply creative approaches to big social challenges. In the forum, participants learnt how to design social projects to offer possible solutions to social challenges, such as the humanitarian crisis affecting refugees, school bullying, domestic violence, social turbulence in deprived neighbourhoods and youth unemployment.  On the other hand, in the second day, with the title “People are asking, social economy on the debate”, the participants have the opportunity to exchange ideas and insights about social innovation with representatives of civil organizations, such as, REAS Valencia, Valencian Association of Economy of Common Good Association, B Corp Spain, The Confederation of Cooperatives of Community of Valencia and the Valencian Coordinating Committee of NGOs.

After these presentations, it was held the closing session with the participation of different institutions of the Region of Valencia as:

  • Isabel Lozano, Councilor for Equality and Inclusive Policies of Valencia Council
  • Lola Fernández, President of the Xarxa EAPN of the Province of Valencia
  • Begoña Serrano, Manager at Valencian Institute of Building
  • Mº José Ortolá, General Subdirector of Social Economy at the Government of the Region of Valencia.

To sum up, the conclusions of these two days of debates suggested that social innovation can make policymaking more participatory enabling more inclusive, sustainable and cohesive societies. In this context, the role of policy-makers and the participation of the society in the design of public policies are key to boost the shift towards a new society based on a new economy.

Note: Photos have been obtained on the Jovesolides Facebook Page.

III Forum on Social Innovation