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SIMRA’s first General Assembly in Barcelona

SIMRA partners and its Scientific Advisory Board gathered in Barcelona from 16 to 18th May 2017 for a productive annual project meeting and the first General Assembly, hosted by the EFI Mediterranean Regional Office in the stimulating surroundings of the UNESCO Sant Pau Recinte Modernista Barcelona. One year after the project´s kick-off, the forum was an opportunity to reflect on achievements and progress thus far, and to plan next steps for the coming year.

In-depth discussions culminated in SIMRA’s working definition of social innovation (the definition will be the subject of a future blog). Other topics progressed included the concept of Marginalised Rural Areas, and the format and contents of SIMRA’s social innovation database, which will soon be available on our website. Preliminary findings on methods to assess social innovation were presented, and the timeline and methods agreed for selecting case studies and implementation of innovation actions. Exciting approaches were developed for the creation of impacts for the benefit of project stakeholders.

Amongst numerous highlights was the EFIMED breakfast seminar on social innovation for a bio-based economy, presented by Laura Secco of Univ. Padova. A fascinating field trip to the Catalonian countryside, hosted by local groups responsible for social innovation, gave participants first-hand experience of the opportunities and impacts being created – more to come on this subject in our next blog post!

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Any examples of Social Innovation to share with us?

The Horizon 2020 project SIMRA (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas) officially started on April 1st, 2016 and will continue for four years. The project wants to categorise and understand social innovation in different settings (thanks to case studies), to develop an integrated set of methods for the evaluation of social innovation and its impact on rural areas, to analyse the success factors for social innovation and to disseminate new knowledge to policy-makers.

One of SIMRA’s aims is to perform a holistic analysis and categorisation of existing examples of Social Innovations in Marginalised Rural Areas. As part of this work, we are identifying examples within the fields of agriculture, forestry and rural development and gathering a comprehensive list at different scales that allow us to explore diversity among social innovations. Part of this catalogue will be used to develop an interactive online database that will be available this spring on the SIMRA website.

Project partners have initially populated the database with examples from academic sources e.g. journal articles, reports and research projects about social innovation. Since the beginning of 2017, we have now collected more than 200 distinct examples from across the project area. We would now like to make a wider call for social innovation examples developed in marginalized rural areas in Europe and the Mediterranean area. In particular, we are seeking further examples from non-EU countries in the Mediterranean as these areas are currently under-represented in the database.

If you are a stakeholder, a practitioner, a person interested in social innovation, or a rural dweller and are aware of an interesting initiative or project which fits within the scope of SIMRA, let us know about it by completing the questionnaire you will find here: https://uhi.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/simra_en

The database of social innovation examples will be available on our website shortly.