How can Policy help bring about Social Innovation in Rural Areas? Read SIMRA’s final Policy Brief

The Horizon 2020 project SIMRA – Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas – has just published its final policy brief “How can policy help bring about social innovation in rural areas”.

This briefing explores the challenge of raising the profile of social innovation in policy-making, because although social innovation may happen as a result of citizen action alone, its impact can be much enhanced by the design of supportive policies. Although there are now some European Union policy vehicles, such as the Action for Smart Villages and the extension of the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) action in the future ESF+ which carry the idea forward, permeating other policy fields with the principles and practices of social innovation could yield even greater rewards.

In this policy brief, the SIMRA consortium defines what we understand to be rural social innovation, its drivers and key concepts ; before explaining the role of social innovation in marginal rural areas, using examples from Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy and the UK to explore the potential of social innovation to contribute to improvements in social, economic and environmental outcomes.

The policy brief concludes with 9 main policy messages and calls for action summarised below to show how public policy can enhance the opportunities for social innovation and increase its beneficial impacts and outcomes.

SIMRA’s policy messages

  1. A broad conception of social innovation creates space for local realities and needs to be addressed
  2. Silos created by different funds and institutions need to be broken down to enable joined up action at the community level
  3. Policy alignment across scales is critical if social innovation is to be effectively supported
  4. EU policy instruments with ring-fenced funds can contribute to wider acceptance of the importance of social innovation
  5. National/regional level policy architecture supporting community empowerment is essential
  6. Animation and capacity building in marginalised communities are critical for long-term benefits but take time to realise
  7. Social innovation has much to contribute to the European Green Deal
  8. Sharing good practice can help
  9. Different countries are at different stages in developing support structures for social innovation

To read the policy brief, click here.

Don’t hesitate to spread these messages widely so they can be integrated into your local policy-making and lead to more social innovation in your territory.


Bill Slee (The Rural Development Company Limited)
Lauren Mosdale (Euromontana)

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