One of the main objectives of SIMRA is creating collaborative and learning opportunities where local stakeholders (communities, researchers, businesses) could work together towards the realization of social innovation initiatives, which could leave a lasting legacy in the area where they are promoted. These initiatives in SIMRA are named Innovation Actions and are under the responsibility of WP7 and its partners (EFI, Euromontana, and IAMZ-CIHEAM).
SIMRA defined an “Innovation Action” (IA) as ”a demonstration or set of pilot activities aiming to explore the technical feasibility of the new or improved knowledge on Social Innovations -in terms of processes, related technology, products or services- in a near to operational environment within Marginalized Rural Areas”. IAs will be implemented in six pilot testing of SI across the variety of marginalized rural areas in Europe and Southern Mediterranean countries, namely:
- Gúdar-Javalambre in Teruel, Spain (coached by EFIMED),
- Rural Catalonia, Spain (coached by FORECO),
- Rural Lancashire in United Kingdom (coached by University of Lancashire),
- Lebanon (coached by SEEDS Int.),
- Val Belluna in Italy (coached by ETIFOR), and
- Lillehammer Region in Norway (coached by ENRI).
These pilots will enable the relevant actors to exploit the potential of SI, concretizing its impact in the local economies and social texture. In addition, they will allow to potentially creating future business opportunities and stronger networks with government entities and nearby territories and areas. IAs will be both tailored on the particularities of the territory while keeping a similar implementation protocol. Such attempt of standardization will help testing success approaches and finding options for replicability of the IA process across sites and in the future. Each IA will include:
- The organization of periodic networking events to encourage interested actors to present, discuss and initiate innovative activities for rural development;
- The creation of market places (physical and virtual) for SI projects (e.g. fairs);
- The startup or establishment of new networks amongst local actors.
The IA implementation process will start on April 1st in Teruel, Spain. EFI will develop a first meeting with the interested local actors as to discuss viability and potential implementation of SI case in the rural areas. The other five IAs will follow during summer 2017.