Social innovation. The challenge of ENISIE (in Covid time)
In Sicily the old responses to development needs no longer seem to work. The most promising solutions come instead from the vocations of the territories and communities, to be combined with social innovation.
Proof of this is the success of the European project ENISIE (Enabling Network-based Innovation through Services and Institutional Engagement, funded by the Interreg VA Italia -Malta program), a cross-border cooperation program that connects the two large Mediterranean islands, Sicily and Malta, for encouraging collaboration in an innovative direction.
ENISIE supports micro, small and medium-sized companies with a social vocation, aiming to maintain the balance between business and social through the tools of open innovation and design thinking.
The mission is to support the competitiveness of the cross-border area (Priority Axis 2) to encourage the creation and growth of businesses and employment in the social and environmental sphere.
Enisie partners have been working for two years. The team is made up of Impact Hub Siracusa, the Sicilian hub of social innovation, Tree, the innovative SME specialized in Innovation and Education services, Malta Enterprise – Life Sciences and the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.
Now, in Sicily
In the heart of Ortigia, in Siracusa, Impact Hub works on Enisie with its startup and support experts for social enterprises, and professionals in communication, microfinance and participatory territorial planning.
It has a history that starts in 2012, since it is the center of social innovation in Southern Italy that attracts researchers, entrepreneurs, startuppers and digital nomads to favor projects and companies with a strong social and environmental vocation.
It is part of the international network of 100 Impact Hubs scattered around the world including 50 Europeans, and 8 Italians now organized in the Impact Hub Italia community.
The web Platform: Koinè
The ENISIE project has so far focused on the experimental provision of innovative services to companies that promote social impact in the two islands.
It also produced the Koine.net platform which supports networking and exchanges in the EU-Med space and has worked to accelerate three key areas both in Sicily and Malta, but which today, in full restart, are central in the challenge against COVID 19: Food, Digital Health and Sustainable Tourism. But there is something else.
When the COVID alarm attacked companies, the partners promoted concrete initiatives to help them.
From support to the Hackathon EuVsVirus, the pan-European Matchathon that connects civil society, innovators, and investors from all over Europe, to Impact Hub’s free Caffè Digitali, online business support consultancy, from Tree’s challenge at Milan Digital week which has taken up the challenge of online hackathons, the administration of the COVID-19 wage integration scheme, the Covid Wage Supplement, entrusted by the Maltese Government to the Malta Enterprise, and much more.
Now, more than ever it is necessary to better manage financial resources.
Rosario Sapienza, president of the Siracusa hub, explains:
For years we have been providing social enterprises and entrepreneurs with the necessary support for financial services to substain the companies in accessing to bank lending; It is a specificity that now, with the ‘Cura Italia’ decree, concerns billionaire loans and credit lines. But also knowing how to build a business plan is necessary, without giving in to “hit and run”.
Promoting social innovation is therefore not only a viable but also a necessary path.
Today we are asked that consolidated companies, as well as start-ups, adopt social innovation. In this way, their innovative products, services and processes are not only profitable, but positively impact society; it is a necessary effort to contribute significantly to the sustainable development goals promoted by the United Nations. – concludes Joseph P. Sammut, Chairman of the Life Sciences of Malta Enterprise, partner of ENISIE- We have established the Malta Innovation Hub to help businesses, NGOs and the public sector to collaborate with each other using innovation techniques, especially in view of the new social challenges against COVID19 .
This article is published in Scenari (Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 ore ) on June 29 th 2020.