The SIMRA project, coordinated by The James Hutton Institute, with the consortium that comprises members from 15 countries from across the European Union and the wider Mediterranean area, including North Africa, was presented by Maria Nijnik (the coordinator) at the International CRISES (Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales) Conference From Emergence to Recognition. Paths of Innovation held in Montreal.
This international forum brought together over 320 participants, speakers, students, community-based practitioners, policy makers, and interested in social innovation members of the civil society. Maria Nijnik highlighted that social innovation responds to demands that are traditionally not addressed by markets or existing institutions. It manifests itself in new social relationships and collaborations. It also seeks to promote the development and uptake of new services and new fields of activity, such as social entrepreneurship and social enterprises that improve the quality of life of individuals and communities.
Maria briefly considered what successful social innovation looks like, in areas as varied as north-west Europe and Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and North Africa region, Alpine, and Central and Eastern Europe. Highlighting the international nature of the problems that rural areas face across the studied region, she stressed that the SIMRA team works closely and from the very start of the project with those initiating and benefiting from social innovations in order to learn about stakeholders and end-users motivations and experiences of support to socially innovative actions and/or of barriers encountered.