In the small village of Aldeia de Luz close to the border between Portugal and Spain, EN Policy Lead, Toby Gazeley was thrilled to attend the Portugal Social innovation Village on 20-21 June!
Alongside Eslider, the European Commission and PlusValue, EN had the pleasure to present the European Social Enterprise Monitor in a panel focussing on developments in European social entrepreneurship.
For the two days that the village was taken over by social innovators, sessions covering a multitude of topics took place, bringing many key actors from the Portuguese ecosystem together. The European Competence Centres for Social Innovation also held a meet-up during the event bringing together those leading programmes, support and activities to support social innovators utilising European funds.
Some key takeaways from the event were the vibrant energy of the Portuguese ecosystem but simultaneously the need for more to be done to strengthen network and ecosystemic organisations.
Portugal Social Innovation is a good example itself of social innovation but it is just one element that will be required in the development of an enabling ecosystem.
More resources also need to be provided to build a strong national network for social entrepreneurship that can help to steer the Portuguese ecosystem through the twin transition.
During this week Driving Positive Change Conversation, organised by Euclid Network, we also had the opportunity to learn more about the social innovation landscape in Portugal and Spain.
Focussing on Portugal, João Baracho, Chief Executive Officer at CDI Portugal – Center for Digital Inclusion and President of Eslider and Carlos Azevedo , President of the Board of Directors at IES – Social Business School and Board member at Eslider gave us a snapshot of the Portuguese social innovation ecosystem. They highlighted that while incubators supporting social entrepreneurs and social innovators are spread all over Portugal, from urban cities to rural areas, many challenges still hinder scale-up and innovation in the Country.
- traditional business culture and mindset,
- lengthy bureaucracy,
- lack of professionalism,
- funding and gaps in the capital flow and
- lack of digitalisation
In Portugal, the main hope is to see that social innovation is high in the current political agenda. A big opportunity would be the creation of a framework for social enterprises and more incentives to invest in the sector.