About the hub

Today’s challenges, labour shortages in care and education, poverty and social exclusion, demand integrated and innovative solutions. This social innovation hub aims to collect best practices from our members so we can learn from one another.

What is social innovation?

Social innovation can be defined as the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. Social innovations are innovations that are social in both their ends and their means. They are innovations that are not only good for society but also enhance individuals’ capacity to act.

They rely on the inventiveness of citizens, civil society organisations, local communities, businesses and public servants and services. They are an opportunity both for the public sector and for the markets so that the products and services better satisfy individual but also collective aspirations. Stimulating innovation, entrepreneurship and a knowledge-based society is at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Stages of social innovation

Social innovation describes the entire process by which new responses to social needs are developed in order to deliver better social outcomes. This process is composed of four main elements:

  1. Identification of new/unmet/inadequately met social needs;
  2. Development of new solutions in response to these social needs;
  3. Evaluation of the effectiveness of new solutions in meeting social needs;
  4. Scaling up of effective social innovations.

Click here for the guide to social innovation developed by the European Commission.


In its Europe 2020 Strategy the European Union has identified targets in five areas:

  • Employment: 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  • R&D/innovation: 3% of the EU’s GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation
  • Climate change/energy: greenhouse gas emissions 20% (or even 30%, if the conditions are right) lower than 1990; 20% of energy from renewables; 20% increase in energy efficiency
  • Education: Reducing school drop-out rates below 10%; at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third-level education
  • Poverty/social exclusion: at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

Best practices from our members

D-Lab Innovations Transform Home Care in the Danube Region

The Danube Region is facing critical challenges in home care due to its aging population. The demand for affordable and high-quality long-term care services, including home care and community-based support, is urgent. To address these needs, the EU-funded D-Care Labs project aims to revolutionize the home care landscape and enhance the European Care Strategy.  Find out more here.

How Virtual Reality Transforms Palliative Care with the Power of Imagination

At the Deacon Foundation’s Hospice, a pioneering research project is exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) glasses as a supplement to alleviate pain and anxiety in palliative care patients. Led by Professor Hanne Konradsen, the project aims to uncover the profound effects of VR in mitigating suffering. With a significant percentage of patients experiencing pain, alternative methods like VR offer promising relief without unwanted side effects. ​ Find out more here

Community Nursing at Diakoniewerk

Since spring 2022, the first community nurses of the Diakoniewerk have been in use. The main idea is that community nurses can develop their future tools and measures (also) themselves. Under the motto “Grow old as I want”, Community Nursing is there for seniors and relatives and accompanies a self-determined life in old age. Preventive and individual solutions are created that are right for you.​ Find out more here

Energy with Spirit-Solidarity Energy Communities

Our Austrian member Diakonie Austria in collaboration with eight other partners is pioneering the implementation of a project called ‘Energy With Spirit-a solidarity energy community in the evangelical-diaconal area in Austria. This is within the framework of the “Lighthouses for Resilient Cities 2040” funding program as part of the Smart Cities Initiative of the Climate and Energy Fund, call for applications in 2022.

The Energy with Spirit project aims to address the challenges of the energy crisis by actively engaging vulnerable populations in the energy transition.

Find out more here.

Zekki – What’s up?

Our Finnish member, Deaconess Foundation, in collaboration with Diak University got the shared first prize on the European Social Innovation Competition alongside projects from The Netherlands and Austria.The “Skills for Tomorrow – Shaping a green and digital future” Challenge Prize was awarded to the Finnish consortium for their collaborative project “Zekki – What’s up?”. The initiative consists of a digital service in Finland that matches young people with various support services on an online wellbeing self-assessment quiz. Find out more here

Reach out to us

Would you like to share your best practice or do you have other innovative ideas, don’t hesitate to contact Kewan.Mildred@eurodiaconia.org