Opportunities for the engagement of universities in social entrepreneurship and innovation: a pilot experience in Aveiro

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Opportunities for the engagement of universities in social entrepreneurship and innovation: a pilot experience in Aveiro

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Title: Opportunities for the engagement of universities in social entrepreneurship and innovation: a pilot experience in Aveiro
Author: Ávila, Liliana; Amorim, Marlene; Dias, Marta; Franqueira, Teresa; Sampaio, João
Abstract: The promotion of social entrepreneurship and innovation is being persistently put forward as key resolution in the European context as an economic model that is able to promote a growth that is fairer, greener and anchored in local communities. There are encouraging signs that we are moving in this direction, as societies witness a surge of hybrid business models, i.e. pursuing a social mission while engaging in commercial activities in order to generate revenue to sustain their operations. Whereas steps are being taken both at European and regional level for the promotion of adequate eco-systems for social enterprises, regional actors need to improve their ability to cooperate and enhance their capacity to support social enterprise growth. This context places an important call on the role of Universities in social innovation eco-systems. Universities have been acknowledged as key actors in the achievement of the intelligent and inclusive development goals that have been embraced by European economies, as they embody important resources that can be mobilized to contribute to solutions to social problems. Universities can contribute to a region’s assessment of its knowledge assets, capabilities and competencies, supporting the identification of the most promising areas of specialisation for the region. This paper describes the experience and results of a pilot initiative led by the University of Aveiro for engaging regional actors in the identification of opportunities for the development of social innovation and entrepreneurship projects. The initiative involved the collaboration of a multidisciplinary team of the University (i.e. including researchers from the domains of Economics, Management, Design and Social Sciences) with key actors from the 11 municipalities of the Aveiro Region in order to promote services based in sustainable lifestyles. The field work involved a stepwise methodology including: i) a preliminary set of actions to increase the awareness, literacy and motivation of key regional actors for the area of social innovation and entrepreneurship; ii) a phase of exploratory field work, where the researchers interacted with local populations to identify key opportunities linked to the local heritage from which an opportunity map and portfolio was developed; iii) the selection of a sample of opportunities for social business development; iv) the conduction of a set of workshops, based on a design-driven methodology, for the specification of projects to be developed with local communities; v) the follow up of workshop results, including mentoring the most promising social business opportunities and setting the strategy for the Region. In this paper the full methodology is described and discussed, leading to the identification of key success factors and constraints faced by Universities aiming to engage in regional development.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10437/7679
Date: 2016


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