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Digital Social Innovation in the European Parliament

14th November 2016

Frank Kresin is Research Director at Waag Society

On Tuesday, November 8th, DSI4EU hosted a roundtable on Digital Social Innovation in the European Parliament in Brussels. It was hosted by MEP Marietje Schaake (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe), one of the founders of the Digital Agenda Intergroup. The event brought together a number of Digital Social Innovation front-runners to discuss its current shape, future forms and potential impact on society.

The roundtable was kicked off by five speakers with elaborate knowledge in this field. Geoff Mulgan (NESTA) stressed the necessity for governments and funding bodies of thinking of innovation in social terms. Marleen Stikker (Waag Society) connected DSI to addressing societal challenges in which citizens, and civil society play a dominant role. This was seconded by policy officer Fabrizio Sestini (DG Connect), who also reminded us that the dominant social platforms are all non-European, and need localized alternatives. Josef Prusa (Prusa Printers) discussed how the Maker Movement succeeds in turning citizens into makers of their own products and future. Finally, Antonella Passani (T6 Ecosystems) explained how the impact of DSI should be measured and valued on its social and sustainable impact.

Then, a first draft of a DSI Manifesto was presented for discussion. The manifesto called attention to five important principles for policy makers that will help DSI to grow and scale:

1.    Ensure that funding for digital innovation - whether at EU, national, regional or city level - includes streams specifically targeted at DSI.
2.    Promote testbeds that demonstrate the long-term potential of DSI, for example in healthcare, housing, energy, bringing together significant groups of households, entrepreneurs and social innovators, and public officials to align regulation, law, technology and user needs.
3.    Promote a broad base of digital skills amongst schoolchildren, adults, NGOs and other community organisations, to enable them to use data and create digital products.
4.    Accelerate projects to integrate digital tools into every aspect of democracy, from campaigns and proposals to policy design, spending and scrutiny - and encourage leadership from municipalities, parliaments, political parties, whether through funding, advocacy or convening.
5.    Promote laws and programmes that make data and digital platforms open as the default, and build into national and EU funding streams requirements that use and reuse of existing open source tech is considered as a default.

The preliminary manifesto will be elaborated in an open process during the coming months and presented at the Digital Social Innovation Fair in Rome, 1-3 February 2017.




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