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A theoretical framework for the DSI index

9th July 2018

This report, produced as part of the DSI4EU project, details the theoretical framework and planned methodology used to build the DSI Index.

A key part of our project is to better understand the systemic and macro-level conditions which support the creation, growth and sustainability of DSI initiatives, and to analyse geographically how different parts of the European Union are positioned to support DSI initiatives.

Over the past six months we’ve been developing a framework for our experimental DSI index, with the primary aim of helping policymakers and other stakeholders understand how they can support DSI, tech for good and civic tech to grow and scale its impact.

Building upon previous work such as last year’s What next for digital social innovation?, we've been carrying out interviews, roundtables and a review of the literature to understand the most important factors for starting, sustaining and growing DSI initiatives. Through this process, we've identified 32 factors which experts consider important for starting, sustaining and growing DSI initiatives. We’ve then grouped these factors into seven overarching themes:

  1. Availability of Funding
  2. Collaboration
  3. Diversity and Inclusion
  4. Civil Society
  5. Infrastructure
  6. Skills
  7. Support systems

We then asked people involved in or interested in DSI to complete a short survey to rank how important they thought different themes and factors are to the growth and sustainability of DSI, tech for good and civic tech.

This report summarises our progress and findings in the first six months of work and details our plans for the next six months. It explains why indexes are useful and sets out the rationale behind, and aims for the DSI Index, lays out the theoretical framework of the Index developed in the first half of this year; and explains the planned methodology for constructing the Index over the coming months.

Finally, we would like to thank all the interviewees and roundtable participants for helping us understand the factors that are most important to starting sustaining and growing DSI initiatives, as well as thank all those who responded to our survey about the importance of the selected indicators. Thank you also to our consortium partners and all those who provided feedback and support throughout the development of the index.




To keep up to date with the DSI4EU project, follow us on Twitter and sign up to our mailing list. If you work with a DSI organisation or project, create a profile on the DSI4EU platform at



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