Systematic knowledge exchange and learning process in understanding and assessing social innovations for marginalised rural areas has been the main objective of the first Transdisciplinary workshop of H2020 project SIMRA (Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas). 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 the workshop took place on October 26th – 28th 2016 and was endorsed by the Slovak presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Members of the SIMRA consortium met for the first time with 20 members of the SOCIAL INNOVATION THINK TANK (SITT). Throughout the project, SITT will represent a multilevel transdisciplinary structure of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and the Stakeholders Involvement Board (SIB) consisting of European, Associated & non-EU actors and experts in forestry, agriculture and rural development. A main mission of the trans-disciplinary approach of SIMRA is to advance academic excellence in order to promote the exchange of knowledge across various disciplines and expert arenas and to bridge the still existing gaps between science, policy and practice.
What are the overall and specific variables of the emergence of social innovation in marginalised rural areas? How do they effect 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?
Supported by invited lecture of Susan Baker, professor at Cardiff University Wales these questions framed intense three days’ discussions under SIMRA’s five thematic sessions with a particular reference to the Mediterranean region. Engagement of the SITT members since the beginning of SIMRA has been recognised as crucial for the creation of a transparent and inclusive approach to the framing of social innovation in marginalised rural areas.
Workshop was opened by the director of the Institute for Forest Ecology - Lubica Ditmarova, a vice-president of the Slovak University of Technology - Štefan Stanko, the Director General of Nature Conservation and Landscape protection of the Slovak Ministry of the Environment - Rastislav Rybanič, the Coordinator of SIMRA – principal scientist of the James Hutton Institute, the UK Maria Nijnik and Tatiana Kluvankova chair of host organisation.
The H2020 project “Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) coordinated by the James Hutton Institute was launched in April 2016 and is a 4-year project addressing the unlocking of growth potential of rural areas through an enhanced governance and social innovation.