National Competence Centre for Social Innovation to be established in Ireland

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD and Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland. Pic: Marc O'Sullivan.

Minister Joe O’Brien T.D, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development & Department of Social Protection, has today welcomed the announcement by an Irish-led international consortium of a new EU funded project to promote social innovation and cross-collaboration across Europe.

The objective of the project, which will take place over two years, is to establish a sustainable and responsive National Competence Centre for Social Innovation (NCCSI) in Ireland, which will be led by Rethink Ireland and Genio Trust.

This project is part of an EU project which will form a consortium across Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal in order to promote social innovation and cross-collaboration in each of the partner countries. The project has been granted €650,000 from the European Union (via the European Social Fund and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation).

The consortium, led by Rethink Ireland, is also made up of Genio Trust (Ireland), Cohesion and Development Agency (Portugal), Portugal Social Innovation and Mission Unit, The Change Foundation (Bulgaria), BCause Foundation (Bulgaria), Cleantech (Bulgaria), Bulgarian Center for Not-for-Profit Law, The Business Institute (Bulgaria), the SYNTHESIS Center for Research and Education, and the Centre for Social Innovation (Cyprus).

The aim of the project is for social innovations in each country to have support from a strong network of cross-sector stakeholders and promoters at national and EU levels.

Minister Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities said, “I am delighted to welcome today’s announcement and to extend my congratulations to Rethink Ireland and Genio in their capacity as the lead organisations of the successful consortium.

Social innovators are an important part of our wider social economy ecosystem. They develop concepts, ideas or businesses for social good, and are often assisted through philanthropic or corporate donations, supporting them, kick-starting them and enabling their ideas to be tested in a real environment.

The development of a National Competence Centre will greatly enhance the ability of our social innovators and social enterprises to respond, adapt and develop to the merging needs of our communities.”

Project Coordinator, Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland said, “This initiative demonstrates the importance placed on social innovation at a European level. As we emerge from the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, social innovation will play a critical role in our recovery. We believe that just as innovation is critical to our economic growth, social innovation is essential for societal and environmental progress.

We are honoured to be part of this diverse consortium of organisations leading social innovation efforts in each of their countries and we look forward to learning from one another over the next two years.”

The projects aim to support social innovation stakeholders through capacity building, knowledge transfer, networking and synergies leading to the following outcomes:

  • Increased transnational knowledge-sharing between competency centres at EU level
  • Improved support mechanisms available for key social innovation stakeholders
  • Strengthened public policy and capacity on the national and/or transnational levels to support social innovation
  • Strengthened transnational cooperation in developing social innovations
  • Increased likelihood that social innovation projects become ‘scaling ready’
  • Improved conditions for testing, replication and/or upscaling of social innovations
  • Each country overcomes and addresses any gaps in the social innovation ecosystem.

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