In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: European Commission Publications Office
Cited as: European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Social innovation : inspirational practices supporting people throughout their lives, Publications Office, 2020,


EU, ESF+, Social Innovation


The sustainability of welfare and social protection systems is a growing challenge in Europe. Welfare systems face increasing pressure, in terms of budgetary cuts and demographic changes, particularly in the context of a rapidly ageing population. This is coupled with technological changes that influence the world of work and the skills that people must develop to adapt to a changing labour market. We need sustainable solutions to tackle these evolving social challenges. Social innovation has a key role to play in this.
Social innovation is the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. It represents new responses to pressing social demands, aimed at improving human well-being. Social innovations are innovations that are social in both their ends and their means. They are new solutions that are not only good for society, but also enhance individuals’ capacity to act.
This brochure includes 27 examples of social innovation initiatives across the European Union, one from each Member State. It highlights the diversity and success of existing social innovations in Europe, aiming to raise awareness of the significant positive impact that such innovations can have on people and communities. Its goal is to inform Member States, organisations and other actors about existing good practices on social innovation, facilitating learning exchange and transnational cooperation, particularly in the context of the future European Social Fund Plus.