Social Innovation – An Emerging Concept in Eastern Europe

نوآوری اجتماعی در شرق اروپا

نوآوری اجتماعی در شرق اروپا

The discussion of social innovation in Eastern Europe has recently started and it means creating new and useful ideas in fields such as education, energy production, environment and transportation. Although the region does not have a specific plan for such innovations, there are currently many projects underway that fit this description. Some of these projects have a positive impact and show that these ideas can be implemented and function effectively.

The future of innovation in Eastern Europe
In Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic, innovation performance (i.e. creating new ideas and improving them) has not performed as well as the European Union (EU) average over the past ten years, but the future of innovation It looks positive in this area. These countries have the opportunity to cultivate new and useful ideas that can improve their lives. For example, finding solutions to solve the poverty of the society or creating unity in the society and dealing with environmental issues.

Mr. Martin Kern, President of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, believes that there is a huge capacity for innovation in these countries that has not yet been tapped. He believes that this capacity should be used to strengthen Europe in global competition and improve the state of global innovation.

In this way, the use of social innovations, as new ways of doing things that benefit society, can play a very important role in increasing innovation in Eastern Europe.

Introduction to social innovation in Eastern Europe: current status and efforts to promote and understand this concept
As it was said before, the use of the concept of social innovation in Eastern Europe has recently started, and until now social innovation has not been paid attention to in this region. Thus, in this area, there have been efforts that are consistent with the definition of social innovation, but have not yet been formally recognized or studied. Sometimes, the people behind these actions don’t even realize that what they’re doing might be considered social innovation.

Research shows that in the countries under review, the term “social entrepreneurship” is more common than “social innovation”. Both terms are related to the activities of private organizations and alternative solutions for providing social services. For example, in Hungary, the term social entrepreneurship is often used more than social innovation. Meanwhile, in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, the term is used as part of social economy and social entrepreneurship. In Slovakia, social innovation is often used interchangeably with “social affairs”.

Although the concept of social innovation is not widely known in Eastern Europe, projects funded by the European Commission such as SI-Drive and CASI are promoting and understanding social innovation methods. These projects aim to map and analyze social innovation measures in order to increase awareness and acceptance of this concept in Europe.

Examples of social innovation in Eastern Europe
Below are some interesting ideas that the people of Eastern Europe have proposed to improve their societies. It should be noted that in Eastern Europe, these projects refer to creative solutions to social problems and are initiated by groups of ordinary people and not by large corporations.

Examples of social innovation in Eastern Europe
Examples of social innovation in Eastern Europe
1. Education in Bulgaria:
– There is an interesting program in Bulgaria called “Jumpido” that helps children learn math concepts through fun and educational games. This program encourages children to be physically active even by promoting sports activities.

2. Environment in Slovakia:
– In Slovakia, a project called Farmama is growing, which focuses on urban agriculture. This project provides guidelines on the cultivation, maintenance and use of medicinal plants, fruits and vegetables. The main goal of this project is to inspire urban people to start farming in their balconies or other small spaces.

3. Energy production in Poland:
– In Poland, there is a group called “Social Innovation and Research Unit”. This group is solving basic problems including reducing energy consumption. The creative ideas of this group aim to improve our daily lives.

4. Shipping in the Czech Republic:
– In South Moravia, there is a project that makes it easier to transport bicycles on buses and trains. The project has provided facilities such as the installation of trailers for buses and additional spaces for bicycles in trains, which are very suitable for those who are interested in cycling and using public transport.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the wonderful ideas that people in Eastern Europe have come up with to help their communities. In Eastern Europe, there are great opportunities for new ideas and businesses that help solve social problems. If you are interested in learning more about these projects, you can review case study reports from the SI-Drive project and CASIPEDIA. CASIPEDIA is an online platform mapping social and sustainable innovation practices from the CASI project.

Strategies to promote effective ideas and improve social life
Research in the field of social innovation in Eastern Europe has identified positive and negative factors in this field. To put it more simply, this research shows that there are several positive factors that cause the problem to be solved; On the other hand, it presents challenges that become obstacles to the growth of new ideas and the improvement of people’s lives. For example, positive factors include financial programs, laws that support social businesses, and people at the forefront who initiate positive change by creating new ideas. But despite such cases in Eastern Europe, there is a need for more immediate and extensive measures. People should become more familiar with successful social ideas and more should volunteer in this area to help raise awareness of social innovation in this area. One of the challenges ahead is that few people in this region are used to volunteer work, which causes problems and lack of resources for new ideas. Also, there is little financial and government support for these ideas, and not everyone is willing to start a business from scratch with the goal of innovation. Therefore, despite the challenges, presenting these new ideas is still considered the best way to improve the state of social innovation in Eastern Europe.

Hopes of Social Innovation in Eastern Europe
In short, few people in Eastern Europe are familiar with the concept of “social innovation”. Innovation in this area is interpreted as finding new and better solutions to solve social problems. Currently, most of these innovations come from non-governmental groups such as charities and social entrepreneurs. These groups operate when the government does not provide an answer to the important issues of the society and these people decide to intervene in the affairs.

However, in Eastern Europe, social innovation (at this basic level) has been successful in areas such as support for vulnerable groups and Roma minorities, education and job creation. But there are not many people who are willing to do voluntary work for the betterment of society, and the government and political decision-makers and institutions in the region do not seem to be very interested in these new ideas.

Despite all these problems, there is still hope for the future of Eastern Europe in the field of social innovation because the young people of this region are interested in new ideas.

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