Ombudsman helps solve €93,000 payment dispute between NGO and the Commission
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has helped to settle a EUR 93,000 payment dispute between a French NGO "Earth Data Network for Education and Scientific Exchange" (EDNES) and the European Commission. EDNES successfully carried out three EU-funded projects in Russia, but the Commission contested its method of working and asked it to repay EUR 93,000. The Ombudsman considered the repayment order as disproportionate and unfair. The Commission finally followed his recommendation and cancelled the debit notes.
EDNES acted as project coordinator in three EU-funded research and technology projects carried out in Russia. All three projects were a success. In 2006, however, the Commission asked EDNES to repay EUR 93,000, mostly in overhead costs (covering, for example, administration and management), because EDNES had subcontracted work to a Russian company in Moscow.
EDNES turned to the Ombudsman, arguing that the recovery of the overhead costs was unfair and threatened its very existence. It explained that it is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers who do not receive any remuneration. It had no choice but to ask a Russian company for help in managing personnel recruited locally. According to EDNES, the Commission was informed at all stages about the organisational set-up of the projects and never objected.
Vodafone Foundation launches search for transformational apps
Vodafone Foundation has announced the launch of the first Mobile for Good Europe Awards to search for iOS and Android apps designed to improve people's lives and deliver substantial public benefit.
Creators of the winning apps, in categories including accessibility, mobilising public services, health and education, will receive a shared prize fund of €200,000 to be used for the development of their innovations. Mobilising Public Services will focus on how local and national governments can leverage mobile technology to improve the delivery of public services. The closing date for entries is 15 October 2013 and an awards ceremony will be held in Brussels on 5 December 2013.
The awards build on the success of the Vodafone Foundation’s Smart Accessibility Awards, held in 2011 and 2012, which was a competition to find Android apps which improve the lives of those with disabilities and the elderly. Last year’s winners included Juan Carlos Gonzalez Montesino, who designed Ablah, an app to help his autistic son communicate.
Read more about the competition here.
Social Innovation, creating value with and for people
Social innovation might be the answer Europe is looking for to support a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. This is well explained in the "European Guide to Social Innovation" that will be presented at the conference “Social Innovation, creating value with and for people” organized by Innobasque, in collaboration with Kutxabank and S3 Platform. This event will be held on June 28 2013 in Bilbao.
During the event, you will have the opportunity to learn how other European regions have included social innovation in their smart specialization strategies (S3). In addition to this, several social innovation good practices will be presented together with a Basque cooperation platform to connect regional social innovation with European networks.
At the end of the session, the regional index of social innovation (Resindex) will be presented: this is a pioneer pilot project in Europe promoted by Innobasque in collaboration with Sinnergiak Social Innovation (UPV/EHU) that measures and assesses the state of social innovation. For more information and the agenda please click here.
Social economy and social entrepreneurship - Social Europe Guide: Volume 4
The Social Europe guide is a bi-annual publication aimed at providing an interested but not necessarily specialised audience with a concise overview of specific areas of EU policy in the field of employment, social affairs and inclusion. It illustrates the key issues and challenges, explains policy actions and instruments at EU level and provides examples of best practices from EU Member States. It also presents views on the subject from the Council Presidency and the European Parliament.
The fourth volume in the series describes the vivid world of social economy organisations (such as cooperatives, associations, mutuals and foundations) as well as the more recent phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, i.e. business created to achieve social rather than financial goals. In addition, it illustrates trends towards greater social responsibility among citizens/consumers, for-profit companies and financial institutions. Finally it reviews ways in which European and national policies support the social economy and social enterprise. The guide is available here, and in printed format in English, French and German.
Here is an additional Policy Brief on Social Entrepreneurship. This paper considers the impact of social entrepreneurship in European communities, finding that working with such enterprises and helping them develop can result in widespread gains for public budgets.
Open Innovation 2.0 Yearbook 2013
In the European context, open innovation is now used as a synonym for modern, highly dynamic and interactive processes. Linear and sequential mindsets are slowly changing to be more opportunistic, more daring and more action-oriented. We need to move from having ‘perfect plans for yesterday’ to an innovation culture which fosters experimentation and prototyping in real-world settings. This new innovation culture leads to simultaneous technological and societal innovation and encouragement. We need to be daring and also experiment with disruptive approaches as gradual improvement does not properly reflect the potential that the omnipresent, fast-developing ICT provides for parallel innovations.
Real-world settings with experimental approaches turn the user into a co-creator in the innovation process, instead of just being a recipient of the services or products. The new role of the user is an advantage as feedback on what is successful and what is not can be discovered very rapidly: this enables solutions which create real value to move faster and more successfully. ‘Failing fast’ means that we are also less likely to fail in the big things because corrections to the innovation pathway are easier to take on board at the earlier stages.
The objective of Open Innovation 2.0 Yearbook 2013 is to create a manifesto and platform for sustainable growth enabled through Innovation 2.0. The main goal is to build towards a collective vision/ambition and leverage the collaborative intelligence and muscle to create a virtuous circle of sustainable growth which enables new services, sustainability, improved quality of life and new jobs.
Read more here.