European Union Policy Seminar on the usage of Data for Driving Social Entrepreneurship

“Social enterprises contribute to smart growth by responding with social innovation to needs that have not yet been met; they create sustainable growth by taking into account their environmental impact and by their long-term vision; they are at the heart of inclusive growth due to their emphasis on people and social cohesion. In other words, their key aim is to effect social and economic transformation which contributes to the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy.”
EU Social Business Initiative (25.10.2011)

Europe2020 strategy is pushing to create a favorable climate for social entrepreneurship with a view to stimulating social economy and innovation. Social businesses serve social, societal, environmental objectives, often displaying an innovative approach through the goods or services, methods of production, organization and delivery they offer. They often aim to address the problems of society’s most fragile members (socially excluded persons) and contribute to greater social cohesion, employment and the reduction of inequalities.

Two cornerstones of social entrepreneurship are: i) the ever-increasing need for social services, for example in the health and nursing sectors — due not least to the demographic changes arising as a consequence of an increasingly ageing society; ii) the potential of social ventures to increase global competitiveness with new jobs, often found in the ‘green’ and ‘white’ economy.

The seminar – organized within the activities of the EU FP7 Web-COSI project – aimed to explore the policy implications that have arisen thus far in the context of data usage for driving social entrepreneurship. Data needs for social entrepreneurs can be considered in different perspectives: i) data on the citizens’ problems and needs to drive the start of the social venture; ii) data to foster the venture on-going; iii) data to evaluate and measure the impact of social ventures; iv) data to measure the overall phenomenon of social entrepreneurship.

Digital technology can help lower the cost of and barriers to market entry. It assists social entrepreneurs in accessing communities and meeting their needs. The aggregation of large amounts of data can help to measure overall effectiveness and shape policy interventions. The seminar aimed to explore digital initiatives set up to foster the interaction between citizens and social entrepreneurs and their usage of data and statistics.

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To learn more about the Web-COSI project visit:

Our Web-COSI project received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 610422.


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