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The Social and Scientific Innovation to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SSISDG) Network will examine the role of the EU’s Smart Specialisation in linking scientific and social innovation, and how this can help deliver global action to address societal challenges. Experience over the past five years in implementing S3 in EU regions has demonstrated that science and technology innovation (STI) can address societal challenges in regions. Yet the EU has also experienced the limitations of STI and recognised the importance of socio-ecological innovation. This has also become apparent in global efforts to meet societal challenges.

As well as focusing on scientific approaches, greater attention should be paid to social innovation. This brings a more holistic perspective on understanding mission challenges and mobilises more diverse, inclusive voices and expertise, to progress these efforts in new directions.


The SSISDG Network will address this work through a research program considering the links between global action and regional development, and STI and socio-ecological innovation. The Network will address these issues by:

Aligning key researchers with interdisciplinary expertise to produce a consolidated overview and analysis of the EU’s learning about place-based innovation and its relevance to addressing societal challenges;
Consolidating knowledge about the implementation of Smart Specialisation in regions in Europe and elsewhere in order to assess the relative importance of STI and socio-ecological innovation, thus informing policy and program development in the EU and its international partners;
Enhancing linkages amongst researchers and policymakers in the EU and other areas, so research outputs can contribute to policy formation and to practice in specific situations; and
Developing open-access resources for teaching about the EU’s global role in promoting innovation, and its capacity for international collaboration.