A competence centre for social innovation in Finland

Demos Helsinki is supporting the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economic Affairs to build the conditions for the launch of Finland’s competence centre for social innovation in 2023.

EU increases commitment to social innovation initiatives

Social innovation is increasingly attracting the attention of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+). With meaningful investment, countries are seeking ways to expand their social innovation expertise and practices to solve collective problems. Competence centres for social innovation are set up around the EU to strengthen the impact of social innovation. Finland’s project is coordinated by the Ministry of Employment and Economic Affairs with the support of Demos Helsinki.

The project is driven by the European Commission’s aim to further invest in social innovation. EU member states are pursuing social innovation from structures that are fragmented and with little resources for promotion. As a result, the impact of social innovations generated with EU funding has been low. Finland has a history of valuable and progressive work in the field, but the ecosystem is facing similar challenges as other countries.

Social innovation in Finland

“In Finland, we are not starting from scratch when preparing the competence centre for social innovations. One of the challenges is bringing together existing structures and processes”, says Tapani Kojonsaari, Ministerial Adviser, Minister of Economic Affairs and Employment. “Increasing the impact of social innovation requires raising the profile of social innovation. This has also been recognised by the European Commission, where a lot is happening in the field of social innovation.”

Demos Helsinki is thus building an operating model for the Finnish competence centre and creating a knowledge base on how to strengthen and nurture the national social innovation ecosystem.

As part of the project, we recently completed a report on the state, opportunities and challenges of the Finnish social innovation ecosystem (currently only in Finnish). A final report will be published in September 2022. Moreover, we have organised participatory stakeholder events for spring 2022, aiming to convene actors throughout the ecosystem.

Social innovations can provide us with the key solutions for great societal challenges. Βut, as with most innovations, they require commitment and effort. There is thus an urgent need to promote receptivity to social innovation in decision-making and construct a joint path for the actors of the social innovation ecosystem.

Want to know more?

Vera Djakonoff
Transformative Governance Expert


Finland is a member of the consortium Pan-European Social Innovation Lab (PEnCIL) which is building up national competence centres for social innovation in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland and Lithuania. The consortium identifies the visions, needs, opportunities, and priorities of social innovation stakeholders and advocates to build a strategy and action plan specific to each country.


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