The first social innovation competition in Poland

20.02.2013 Blog

Research related to innovation is often associated with technical and technological innovations, i.e. new products and services. Modern socio-economic research has led to the emergence of new forms of creative innovations like those responding to the challenges of current social problems, mainly to the difficult situation in the labour market and the globalisation of the economy.
At the meeting of the board on 23 February 2012, the National Centre for Research and Development in Poland introduced new two programmes, i.e. SPIN-TECH and Social Innovations. After a discussion, the board rescheduled the evaluation of the two programmes until the next meeting as it turned out to be necessary to study the submitted documents in detail. In a subsequent meeting on 25 July 2012, after a discussion, the  Board of the National Centre for Research and Development decided to issue a new programme on SOCIAL INNOVATIONS: ‘a programme to support the scientific sector and the economic environment within the scope of taking up and executing innovative operations and social initiatives’. Following this decision and in response to existing needs, on 28 January 2013, the National Centre for Research and Development announced the first competition within the framework of social innovation. The main objective of the programme is to improve the quality of life of in society, with particular emphasis on groups and areas where there is a real need for innovative solutions and taking new initiatives.

The specific objectives of the programme are:
• increase in the number of implementations of innovative technical solutions and innovative products, services and procedures to solve complex social problems; and
• increase cross-sectoral cooperation at local, regional and national levels;

In the programme, the organisers of the competition construe social innovation as both socially justifiable technical and technological innovations as well as pure social innovation. The category of technical and technological innovations includes solutions that are particularly related to the adaptation of the product to the needs of specific customers such as residents in Polish regions that are poorly served. The category includes social innovation and strict solutions that relate to such problems of seniors, the disabled and the unemployed, i.e. groups that need support from the state and society. Projects that are implemented through the programme should clearly indicate the social context and define the problem, how to solve it, and indicate a cause-effect relationship between the design and a particular social problem.

Existing good practice in the promotion of social innovation includes taking action on sustainable education, sustainable transport, promotion of active and healthy aging, and support for the disabled and the unemployed. Examples of social innovation include facilitating cooperation, interbank funding, innovative investments, innovative architecture or communications where highly advanced technologies and especially ICT solutions are often used.
The programme is open to consortia that include at least one academic unit and at least one entrepreneur or at least two research units. The formation of the consortium depends on the type of project. In addition, each consortium should include a mandatory non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a legal personality and established in the territory of the Republic of Poland.

Instruments of support provided under the programme are:
• funding for scientific institutions and NGOs;
• state aid for research, development for entrepreneurs; and
• de minimis aid in preparation for the implementation of the business (In the EU according to the principle of Roman law de minimis non curate lex (Latin: the law does not care about little things), help with small size does not result in distortions of competition in the market).

The value of project grants ranges from a minimum value of 50 000 zł (around 12 000 Euro) to a maximum of 1 000 000 zł (around 240 000 Euro). The Social Innovation Programme is funded by the public as part of the National Centre for Research and Development. The deadline for submitting applications is 28 March 2013.
More information and documents about the competition can be found at (in Polish):,1805,i-konkurs-w-ramach-programu-innowacje-spoleczne.html