As the Coordinator of the H2020 project “Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas” (SIMRA), I am very pleased to share the news that the 1st Workshop of the H2020 SIMRA Social Innovation Think Tank (SITT) that took place on October 26th – 28th 2016 in Bratislava and was endorsed by the Slovak presidency of the Council of the European Union, was a success. We received helpful feedback from stakeholders on the SIMRA progress since April, when this project was launched receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement 677622. Systematic knowledge exchange and learning process in understanding and assessing social innovations for marginalised rural areas was the main objective of the first Transdisciplinary workshop hosted by the centre of excellence SPECTRA – joint research centre of the Institute of Forest Ecology Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovak University of Technology and Comenius University in Bratislava. Members of the SIMRA consortium (consisting of 26 partners from 15 countries) met for the first time with more than 20 members of the SOCIAL INNOVATION THINK TANK (SITT, i.e. the Scientific Advisory Board and the Stakeholder Involvement Board of SIMRA, consisting of European, Associated and non-EU experts in forestry, agriculture and rural development). The Science and Stakeholder Labs of SIMRA have started working together. The questions considered, with answers suggested, included: What are the overall and specific variables of the emergence of social innovation in marginalised rural areas? How do they affect a range of success factors and the lessons learned in different rural areas? What are the most appropriate approaches, methods and tools that can be used for assessing social innovations? What does policy support to social innovation mean in different regional settings and contexts? We are very grateful to the SITT members for their splendid contribution to this workshop. I have a strong belief now that in 4 years SIMRA will succeed in producing high quality scientific outputs and will eventually contribute to making a real difference on the ground, in marginalised rural areas of Europe and beyond, and especially in the Mediterranean region.
Author: Maria Nijnik, coordinator of SIMRA project