To Carlos Moedas, European Comissioner for Research, Science and Innovation & Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, spearheading DG Connect and the Director-General of Technology-related policies.
Currently, Europe has 2 million social enterprises that hold 10% of EU companies and more than 11 million workers. Technological and digital progress must integrate them, inspire them and accompany their social mission, not to reinforce inequality. The support of European institutions and dedicated facilities are indispensable to continuing progress.
Between precariousness and destruction of jobs, tax complications and invasions of privacy, the tech and digital sector is accused of many evils. This discourse is the bed of populism and is based on a very real phenomenon which should be discussed: never has technology changed the organization of society so quickly.
At the European level, the Social Fund gives priority to the redistribution of vulnerable groups, especially young people and those fighting against discrimination, the promotion of sustainable and quality employment, long-term unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. These fields of action are mainly supported by actors of social utility.
But today, these fall under the extension of their social mission, the decline in resources and an injunction to initiate a digital transition that is essential to their survival. At a time when public subsidies are melting or dispersing between historic associations and the new players, competition for funding is fierce, making Associations push to professionalize themselves, to equip themselves all the while beginning their digital transition to become the most efficient in service of their mission.
On the other side, some companies in the Tech sector are made up of more and more "Millennials" in search of meaning beyond personal enrichment, wanting to engage through philanthropy or social innovation. Often these leaders and employees sincerely want to engage but are not aware of the existing benefits of the voluntary sector. In our European heritage, there is an extreme undervaluing of social expertise. It is urgent to recognize its true value to associations and social entrepreneurs who master the specificities of their audiences and learn how to do much, with very little.
If our companies and innovative associations could collaborate and create more economic and social value, it is a safe bet that many solutions to the world's problems could emerge. The examples are infinite. Whatever their size, innovative companies and associations need to be encouraged to work better together so that they can come up with solutions for a more equitable and sustainable world. Additionally, events dedicated to tech and foresight must welcome more actors of social utility to inspire each other.
We European citizens want a more inclusive, digital Europe, with social innovation as a marker. A Europe that fosters links between all the players in the economy and values the creation of social value as well as technological progress. The new generation knows no border between social, political and professional commitment. Progress will be achieved through more social justice, equity, autonomy given to all citizens who choose a model of society in which everyone "will do their part" and will be recognized as potential.
Moreover, we want our European institutions to recognize and push the social initiatives that exist in Europe as they support Research and Development, as they promote technological and social co-innovation.
Below are several proposals which already exist but need to be pushed to elevate the European scale:
• Provide associations and social entrepreneurs with financial resources and skills to accelerate their digital transition (institutional communication, patronage programs, dedicated funding, etc.) by promoting exchanges with private actors.
• Create a program bringing together universities, public/private research centres working in tech and social innovation
• Release budget lines to finance the co-construction of technological and social innovation projects between tech and social utility actors to foster the emergence of the "unicorns" of social innovation
• Expand and publicize existing schemes as "Erasmus Young Entrepreneur", promoting exchanges between tech and social entrepreneurs
• Organize a 2018 "Davos of Social Innovation"
• Declare 2019 the European Year of Social Innovation.
Who are we?
The Social Good Accelerator program will be a space of dynamic exchange and networking at Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon. As well as other programs, we offer a Think & Do Tank comprised of associations, foundations and companies.