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Learning for impact

31st May 2018

Do you want to grow the impact of your DSI project? Join our programme to share your experiences and learn from others. By DSI4EU partners.

Help yourself by helping others: such is the aim of the initiative we’re excited to announce today to support digital social innovation (DSI) projects to share experience and learn from one another. Six of the DSI4EU project partners will be leading their own series of online and offline events, each of which will focus on specific social areas with the aim of demonstrably helping projects to grow their social impact.

Read on to find out more and how to get involved!

Why are we doing this?

Having explored the field for over five years, we’ve built up a wealth of knowledge about DSI - not just what the landscape looks like, but also what’s holding back growth. Our new programme of events is based on three key lessons from our past work:

  • Peer learning supports DSI projects to grow their impact. DSI is characterised by, and dependent on, collaboration, cooperation, openness and mutually beneficial exchange. Unlike in the competitive world of industry and commercial digital innovation, DSI projects are boosted, rather than hindered, by sharing of experiences and learning, in everything from accessing funding and skills to engaging users and from working with governments to finding sustainable business models.
  • Peer learning supports the growth of stronger networks. By connecting actors we build stronger networks, which in turn reduces duplication of efforts (and therefore time and money), grants projects access to new contacts, resources and opportunities, and enables collective action in activities like policy influence and citizen engagement. 
  • DSI actors needs to focus relentlessly on social challenges before technologies. The DSI community can sometimes be guilty of techno-utopianism, and, too often, technology is a solution in search of a problem. Putting social challenges first key to creating, growing and sustaining DSI - it allows for high-quality, user-centred product and service development, and ultimately for greater social impact. Furthermore, citizens, customers and government are more likely to be engaged by tangible positive impacts than by exciting uses of technology.

With this in mind, each of the DSI4EU partners (with the exception of Nesta) has designed a programme of events which responds to the issues, challenges and opportunities relevant to their social challenge-focused “cluster”. They will focus on exchanging knowledge and skills between practitioners, educators, policymakers, funders, researchers and other stakeholders, working on topics including technology development, social organising, communication, funding, growth and business models and other cluster-specific issues. Most activities will take place in the cities where partners are located, although some will take place online, and we are continuing our busy programme of project-wide events.

Get involved!

Are you interested in taking part in peer learning events, or just keeping up to date with their progress and learning? Then we want to hear from you!

Read on to find out more about the specific activities led by each partner, and drop us an email if you’d like to get involved.

  • Health and care cluster (WeMake, Italy)
  • Skills and learning cluster (Fab Lab Barcelona, Spain)
  • Food, environment and climate change cluster (Waag, Netherlands)
  • Migration and integration cluster (betterplace lab, Germany)
  • Digital democracy cluster (ePaństwo Foundation, Poland
  • Cities and urban development (Barcelona Activa, Spain)

Cluster: Health and care

Coordinator: WeMake

Geographical scope: Italy

Language: Italian

Contact: Zoe Romano

Our work on the Health and care cluster will focus on engaging people and organisations (based mainly in Italy, and particularly the Lombardy and Piedmont regions) in a peer-to-peer learning journey. In this journey, practitioners share their experiences and lessons through a series of webinars and offline events which aim to engage groups of DSI innovators with complementary skills such as social innovation, social entrepreneurship and making and entrepreneurship. The goal of the series is to gather and share insights between participants and to connect them into local and transnational networks to help them scale their impact. We’ve already held one offline event, Changing care through bits and atoms, and have four webinars already in the calendar: on impact measurement in small organisations (with Fiorenza Lipparini, 22 July 2018); on how to benefit from the creation of shared spaces (with Marco Giovannone, July 2018); on how to hack policymaking ( with Annibale D’elia, September 2018); and on how to develop a community and build upon open source tools (with Alessandro Ranellucci, October 2018).

Find out more (in Italian) here.

Cluster: Skills and learning

Coordinator: Fab Lab Barcelona

Geographical scope: Spain

Language: Spanish and English

Contact: Matías Verderau

Our cluster focuses on bringing Digital Social Innovation closer to the world of education. We want to raise awareness about DSI among different stakeholders, such as government, policymakers, educators, educational institutions, parents 'and students' associations. We’re going to be engaging these stakeholders in different ways - discussions, debates, conferences, workshops and educational programmes. We’ll focus on three broad aspects of DSI within skills and learning: how DSI can be used to cultivate future skills and encourage socially-oriented education; how DSI can be used in the classroom to enhance learning; and how DSI can be used to better include disadvantaged and underprivileged groups.

Cluster: Digital democracy

Coordinator: ePaństwo Foundation

Geographical scope: Europe-wide, with a focus on Poland

Language: English

Contact: Krzysztof Izdebski

Technology will not save the world but it may improve it in many ways. The same holds for our democracies, where the emerging field of digital democracy offers several solutions while also posing several challenges. Join our peer learning programme, which will consist of a series of webinars and offline meetings in Warsaw. Our ultimate aim is to support practitioners to share skills and learning, but also to raise awareness about the potential of digital solutions to improve modern democracies at both the central and local levels. We want to support initiatives to scale and popularise them more widely. Our first event is a workshop in June with Matthew Manos, focusing on how to measure and make impact, and this will be followed by a series of webinars where participants will share what works, what needs improvement, and ideas for supporting everyday activism.

Cluster: Food, environment and climate change

Coordinator: Waag

Geographical scope: Netherlands, with a focus on Amsterdam

Language: Dutch and English

Contact: Socrates Schouten

In our cluster we will focus on engaging people and organisations operating in the wider area of Amsterdam. We are starting our journey, however, Europe-wide, by involving some of the most successful DSI initiatives in their respective areas. In June and July, we’ll be setting up the cluster through talks and webinars with the likes of Open Source Circular Economy (for circular economy), REScoop (for community energy) and (for air quality). Following this, we’ll host a series of sessions in Amsterdam between September and January, focusing on how DSI can be used to tackle environmental challenges and climate change an improve food systems. Through these and other events, we also hope to involve initiatives from across the Netherlands.

Cluster: Migration and integration

Coordinator: betterplace lab

Geographical scope: Germany, with a focus on Berlin

Language: German and English

Contact: Lavinia Schwedersky

DSI within the field of migration and integration is rapidly developing. With this in mind, we’re kicking off our events programme with a peer learning meetup in August, where we’ll discuss  the community’s successes, failures and challenges since last year’s digital refugee summit. Following on from this, we will use their experiences to build a Europe-wide network of knowledge exchange for DSI projects focusing on integration. Later, in Autumn, we will organise peer learning events between different European refugee coding schools, following on from the first meetup of coding schools  that was hosted by Techfugees and RediSchool in March 2017. Finally, in December we’ll explore the topic of diversity in tech, specifically focusing on greater representation of those with migrant backgrounds.

Cluster: Cities and urban development

Coordinator: Barcelona Activa

Geographical scope: European cities

Language: English

Contact: Marcos Perez-Batlle

As a leading city for DSI in Europe, with a socially-focused digital innovation strategy and a number of initiatives in place, we’re going to be working with other cities to share and facilitate learning. We’ll be doing this through events like the DSI Fair, Maker Faire, WeMakeThe.City, Smart City Expo and Matins Makers, but also through broader engagement with city policymakers around Europe.

Next steps

We’re really excited to be embarking on this exciting programme of events across Europe. Please get in touch with any feedback or if you’d like to know more. We hope to hear from you soon!



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