In Italy there is a treasure trove of potential innovation and it lies in the 22,000 enterprises and social cooperatives. “If we were able to transfer technology to these realities and we were successful even in just 1% of cases each year, there would be 220 efficient, technological and scalable social enterprises” explains Mario Calderini, professor at the Milan Polytechnic – “A huge number compared to Italian university incubators“. In fact, we can imagine these 220 companies as a large business accelerator distributed throughout the territory. But how can this leap be made? How can we succeed in transferring to these entrepreneurial third sector subjects technologies which could make them more efficient and transform the way in which services are provided? In MIND (Milan Innovation District), Fondazione Triulza – a network of about seventy third sector and civil economy organizations born on the eve of Expo 2015 – is trying to experiment with new paths. “In addition to support them – adds Calderini, who is advisor of Fondazione Triulza, as well as president of the scientific committee of the Social Innovation Academy – we thought of stimulating the demand for technology”. In other words, the companies set in MIND will ask for tech products and services and the world of the entrepreneurial third sector will thus be invited to offer adequate answers. “In fact, we reserve procurement quotas for social enterprises where there is a technological component” concludes Calderini. An approach that recognizes the potential role of the social economy as a strategic sector as requested by the European Commission which launched the Social Economy Action Plan in 2021, after having included the social economy as one of the 14 ecosystems in the industrial strategy of the European Union. MIND has just started, with this pilot project that brings together Fondazione Triulza, Plus Value and Finlombarda. The challenge «Match I.S. – Light on your social innovation». Up to six profit companies with operational headquarters in Lombardy (or intending to open one) will be selected. These companies will engage in structuring a large-scale open innovation project and/or increasing the effectiveness of already existing social innovation projects to explore new ideas in the field of social innovation. Applications for start-ups/scale-ups that intend to propose their own solutions to the social innovation needs of the companies selected in the first call will open on the Open Innovation Lombardia regional participatory platform in April. The entrepreneurial third sector will be contacted in various ways. The CGM consortium has come forward (with 700 companies and social coops and 42 thousand workers) and Confcooperative, Legacoop and Agci, which have been collaborating with Fondazione Triulza for three years, are also involved. Meanwhile, the MIND model is preparing to scale up nationally, reaching out Basilicata and Campania.”
The article is available in the non-profit insert of the Sole24Ore of 12/04/2023.
For information on the Match I.S. platform: https://fondazionetriulza.org/match-i-s-light-on-your-social-innovation/