June 21, 2021

European Technological and Social Innovation Factory (RIA)

Main purpose: The European industry must adapt to a series of structural societal challenges, such as: climate change, digitisation, growing inequalities and demographic shifts. Social innovation supports industry to successfully manage these transitions, by enhancing the social aspect of new products, services, methods, business models, production processes and forms of cooperation, and by involving academia, industry, public authorities, and civil society in the innovation process. Social innovation thus contributes to making industry more resilient, inclusive, democratic, dynamic, sustainable, and fair – and particularly when combined with technological innovation, has the potential to address societies’ most pressing challenges.

To exploit the synergies between social innovation and technology, and to address the EU’s policy priorities, the European Commission seeks to establish “European Technological and Social Innovation Factories” that provide social innovators with financial and capacity building support, to develop their ideas into concrete solutions and make businesses more resilient, sustainable and inclusive. Moreover, the factories shall promote a new European culture of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Concretely, European Technological and Social Innovation Factories shall set up an inclusive mechanism to harvest social innovation ideas. They should issue calls for ideas that are business and industry driven, providing innovative solutions improving the resilience and preparedness of EU businesses in EU policy priority areas and are bottom-up in their approach, involving users and citizens. The following eligibility criterions should be used:

  1. Serving at least one EU priority.
  2. Combining technological and social innovation.
  3. Engaging society and industry.
  4. Demonstrated market knowledge and market demand for the solution.
  5. Offering an innovative solution.
  6. Ensure a broad dissemination of the calls to reach out to local social innovators with the support, for instance, of the national competence centres for social innovation funded under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).
  7. Select approximately 30 of the best entries, using announced eligibility criterions to rank entries. They should award approximately €100,000.
  8. Turn these ideas into pre-market demonstration projects through a process of co-design and co-development, engaging civil society; start-ups, SMEs, mid-caps, and large corporations; academia; public authorities; philanthropists; impact financiers, etc. to the extent appropriate. The consortium should have extensive knowledge in business incubation to be able to provide capacity-building support. Synergies with the ongoing EU funded projects on Incubators for inclusive and social entrepreneurship are encouraged.
  9. Monitor the testing of the pre-market demonstration projects to demonstrate and document that the social innovation achieves investment grade.
  10. Help pre-market demonstration projects to find investors through the portfolio of activities (e.g., matchmaking events, dragon-pitches, auctions, etc.) that they consider best suited.

Applicants should envisage, as appropriate, clustering activities with other ongoing and future social innovation projects funded under Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe projects for, inter-alia, cross-project co-operation, consultations and knowledge exchange, joint activities on crosscutting issues as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. Applicants should plan the necessary budget to cover those activities without the prerequisite to define concrete common actions at this stage.

Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)

Institution: European Commission

Deadline: 23 September 2021

Budget: 5 million EUR

Financing type: Action grant

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