Social innovation in the French Lorraine region

Social innovation can be either initiated or supported, including in public private partnership form (PPP) and by the public sector. A major difference occurring in the scaling up process of innovative ideas/projects initiated by the public sector vs the more private oriented social innovators is that the first ones are often not interested to actively promote the take-up of the innovation in an other area as their focus and liability are mainly limited to their administrative jurisdiction. The good news about this is that those innovations can be considered as “open source” ones and their take-up/scaling up is only relying on imitation and political willingness more than issues related to competition, IPR, ...

In this case, access to new ideas and their DNA is critical to ensure the widest possible take-up/reproduction of them.

See here an example of a successful public social innovation. If you want to know more about it, please contact us.

L’innovation sociale en Lorraine

In France, social innovation is increasingly taken into account by the public actors seeking to promote it by creating a favorable environment for its development. The “Conseil supérieur de l’Economie Sociale et Solidaire” describes social innovation as "a response to new social needs or yet poorly met by the current market and social policies, by involving the participation and cooperation of stakeholders, including users and beneficiaries. These innovations include the product or service, ways of organization, distribution, in areas such as aging, childcare, housing, health, and the fight against poverty, exclusion and discrimination '.

Based on this definition the Lorraine region has developed a policy to support social innovation. It has created in 2013 a working group on "social innovation”. Every month, fifteen participants (academics, researchers, economists, sociologists, technicians and state authorities, contractors ....) meet together to ensure an effective implementation of social innovations in the region.

The Lorraine region has a blog dedicated to social innovation: The purpose of this blog is to foster social innovation and create and maintain social ties between citizens.

The main perceived opportunities in the field of social innovation are currently related to:

  • Housing and mobility
  • Power supply and consumption and medical and social welfare services
  • Culture
  • Circular Economy and Environment

To do so, the region will support:

  • The development of a "culture" of social innovation in relation to the local context, to raise awareness by example, how Lorraine companies are developing innovative projects;
  • Being in touch with university networks and graduate schools to register social innovation as a subject of study / research potential;
  • The creation of a "social innovation fund" supported by BPI France ...

In September 2013, in order to move from analysis to action, the region launched a call for projects targeting socially innovative companies, with the aim to grant financial assistance for investment, job creation and communication, up to €45 000 per project.

The result of this call for proposals was 14 companies supported with a total of € 221,000 granted.

The projects were selected based on criteria such as stakeholder involvement during the various phases of project development; the positive effects; the desire to develop larger scale of the project; risk-taking and experimentation conducted.