INNOSI (Innovative Social Investment: Strenghten Communities in Europe)

InnoSI asks how we can design robust social investment strategies which can deal with emerging socio-economic challenges and the aftershocks of the 2008 economic crisis.
The research will identify innovative approaches to social investment at national and regional levels across the 28 Member States with in-depth case study evaluations taking place in 10 Member States. Within the programme of research special attention is paid to the legal and regulatory frameworks required for innovation in social welfare policy and different approaches to funding social welfare policy including the potential role for third sector and private sector organisations.

Our overall approach is based on our distinct understanding of social investment which recognises:
• the importance of regional context in social investment policy;
• the role for social innovation in social investment;
• the need to recognise and measure social as well as economic value when evaluating policies; and
• how beneficiaries experiences of social investment policies play help shape civic identities in Europe.

However, this is a not a traditional research project. Key to the project are community involvement and policy impact. We believe that to develop approaches that will support effective social reform for vulnerable groups it is essential to involve them in the research and the process of policy development and implementation. User involvement thus runs through the heart of our project, ensured through recruiting a minimum of 100 ‘community reporters’ and training them in core social media skills such as photography, podcasting and film making using ‘technology in the pocket’ devices. Approximately a third of the resource on this project is devoted to impact generation. Results from the research are assimilated in a foresight analysis where we consider options for social investment in the future. Our ‘impact partners’ (typically NGOs or representative bodies) will act as ‘knowledge brokers’ taking research findings from the case studies and foresight exercise, translating them into policy-relevant material with which to engage policy-makers. Their aim is to generate impact from the research during the lifetime of the project and lay foundations for ongoing impact from the body of work generated during the project.