Jump label

Service navigation

Main navigation

You are here:

Sub navigation

Main content

Bundestag decides to promote social innovation

On Friday, May 29th, the German Bundestag has decided to increase the support for social innovation. The motion titled „Stronger support and more efficient use of social innovation“, proposed by CDU/CSU and SPD, the two currently ruling coalition fractions, emphasizes social innovation’s increasing importance within a comprehensive innovation concept. The motion explicitly refers to the „Atlas of Social Innovation - New Practices for a Better Future“ edited by TU Dortmund.

The accepted proposal text describes social innovations as „new social practices and organisation models creating sound and sustainable solutions to societal challenges” (see proposal 19/19493 | PDF| German). According to the proposal, the innovative potential of the whole society can be activated and democratic structures can be strengthened when different societal sectors participate in innovation processes. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Howaldt, director of TU Dortmund’s Sozialforschungsstelle, affirms the proposal’s reasoning: „Social innovations are an important pillar of the innovation system. Just like technological innovations, they need to be researched and supported by infrastructures such as social innovation centres. Their significance has now been acknowledged by federal politics.“ During the debate, the motion was supported by Dortmund’s member of the Bundestag Sabine Poschmann.

According to the proposal, the ecosystem of social innovation needs to be improved through different measures. In addition to social enterprises, civil society actors and companies, science should play a specifically important role in developing, testing, and diffusing not only technological, but also social innovations. The proposal argues that innovation policy can only be successful when academia and research organisations can tap their full potential.

The accepted proposal describes 16 lines of action for the federal government to attend with available budget resources. These include i.a.:

  • advancing social innovations within the German hightech strategy;
  • developing a cross-departmental concept to support social innovations and social enterprises;
  • starting a programme for researching and developing social innovations;
  • making the public more familiar with social innovations and social enterprises and encouraging entrepreneurial and civil engagement to tackle the grand societal challenges, e.g. through a „Social Innovation Forum“ similar to existing formats such as the „Digital Summit [Digital-Gipfel]“;
  • collaborating with the federal states in order to develop and financially support infrastructures such as social innovation centres and hubs;
  • open up existing structures for technology development such as technology centres, science parks, technology platforms and connect them with new social innovation centres. 

Dr. Christoph Kaletka, management board member at TU Dortmund’s Sozialforschungsstelle, emphasizes: „The Bundestag’s decision to call for a comprehensive concept of innovation can pave the way towards a modern innovation policy. Social innovation happens in all and often across different parts of society, and the proposal’s lines of action reflect this.” 

Both editions of the „Atlas of Social Innovation“ are accessible online at www.socialinnovationatlas.net.