Specifics of Social Innovation


The proposition that social innovation has the potential to emerge as a driver of the future economy necessitates a better and more detailed understanding of the dynamics of how specific and contextualised solutions work. And although the scope and potential outputs are quite wide, social innovation often results services. Forasmuch, the design of improved social innovation can draw on knowledge coming from the systemic view on service innovation. In this view, service innovation is strategically integrated with

  • the definition of a meaningful vision, where the exchange of services produces value at a social level, or else a system where the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals;
  • the envisioning and the generation of new business models for service-based social innovations;
  • the design of a system of relations and interactions among the involved actors and stakeholders;
  • the design of the most suitable technological solutions (e.g. digital social innovation) that enable both the specific business model and the interaction modes of the involved actors.


Categorising different types of social innovation and their economic dimensions is a first step towards exploring particular business models which are most appropriate to specific forms of social innovations.


Desk research will be applied analyse the specificity of social innovation in comparison to other forms of innovation, and particularly with technological innovation, to define differences and similarities, which will be useful in the adoption or adaptation of already established support practices as well as identifying criticalities, gaps and opportunities.

In a first step and based on the elaborated typology of social innovation Go to Theorising(WP1), an analysis pattern will be developed to systematise the different economic specifics of social innovation. This pattern will allow describing analogies and differences in the identified forms of social innovation ? covering prototypes, well-established and already scaled solutions ? that will be used to refine and further enhance the social innovation typology from a micro-economic/strategic management perspective.

Applying «reverse-engineering», case studies collect under Go to Business Case StudiesWP3 will be comprehensively analysed in a second step. With the aim to optimise business and organisational models for scaling and diffusion, their economic principles, objectives and components (key resources, underlying processes, enabling/supporting technologies etc.) will be identified.

Basic Information

  • Coordinator
  • Contact
    Alessandro DESERTI
  • Involved Partners
  • Start date


  • 1

    Design Thinking

    Design Thinking refers to the generation and implementation of new ideas about solving problems at the micro level and meeting one or more common goals by mainly focusing the process of design itself. In the context of social innovation a designarly approach is required to make initiatives more effective and replicable by reshaping and integrating objectives, forms of participation, the role of social drivers (versus that of technologies) and other external factors.

  • 2

    Reverse Engineering

    Reverse engineering is the exploitation of know-how by starting with the known solution and working backward to divine the process which aided in its development.