Social innovation in Spain has experienced rapid growth over the last 5 years. You can find more and more entities and organisations dedicated exclusively to the promotion and enhancement of social innovation. Specific programmes on social entrepreneurship from existing and well-known organisations e.g. in the financial sector are popping up. Also, public bodies have become much more active in the field.

The sector of social innovation in Spain, although demonstrating fast growth and a great potential to transform society, is still in its early stages and many of the initiatives being set up are still quite modest (in size and/or ambition). The challenges faced by social innovators and entrepreneurs are not only related to funding, but also to the consolidation of the projects/initiatives and the creation of alliances. Apart from the legislation not being geared towards innovation, the lack of proper education and training hampers the extension and success of initiatives and project.

Social innovation in Spain addresses a wide array of social issues, such as the high level of unemployment (especially among young people and the high rate of long term unemployed persons), ageing population or the integration of immigrants.

The social innovation ecosystem reunites a wide variety of institutions and organisations, many of which are focused on creating and enhancing the connection between social innovators, social entrepreneurs, investors as well as the cooperation with other stakeholders. It includes organisations that belong to the already well-established international networks such as Ashoka or Impact Hub, but also new local actors that have recently sprung up such as social innovation and entrepreneurship accelerators, such as UpSocial or Socialnest.

Even though public authorities are taking action on local, regional and national levels to spur social innovation, the main players are found in the private sector with third sector (e.g. players within the social and collaborative/solidarity areas), and citizen-based initiatives taking the lead.

While doing the research for the Social Innovation Academy project, we have engaged with several examples of these types of initiatives to drill deeper into their challenges and needs. Below a quick look into Spain and Extramadura’s social innovation scene.

Cibervoluntarios is a non-profit organization shaped by pioneering social entrepreneurs that promotes the use and knowledge of new technologies as a means to alleviate social gaps, generate social innovation and foster citizen empowerment.

Fundación Tecnología Social (FUNTESO) is a non-profit organization whose main goal is to become a strong link between researchers, manufacturers, users and institutions in the ICT field, to ensure that technology is a powerful, easy to use and helpful tool that helps people in their personal and professional development regardless of their physical and / or social conditions

In Extremadura, the Mainova initiative of Fundación Maimona is to be highlighted. Being the first Social Innovation Laboratory in Extremadura, it is a community of people and organisations that develop complete projects in an open, ethical, democratic, effective, and collaborative way.

Social innovation training in Spain

Over the last couple of years, both private courses as well as university programmes or specialisation courses have emerged focusing on social innovation and/or social entrepreneurship. They are trying to answer the needs of (future) social innovators and/or entrepreneurs. The Social Innovation Academy aims to add on to the existing programmes, rather than to compete with them, by being the first VET (Vocational Education and Training) practice-focused online training programme dedicated specifically to social innovation, based on the concept of ‘sharing economy’. It will be more inclusive and open, with no strict selection processes applied, and targeting professionally active adults in a flexible and location-independent way.

Would you like to become a successful social innovator yourself? We can help you!

EOLAS in Spain and 4 other partners from acrosss Europe are working together to develop the Social Innovation Academy. The Social Innovation Academy will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation. Why Social Innovation Academy? Social Innovation has been increasingly perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to join our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.


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