Mapping A Social Economy Eco-System– The HEI Perspective

The newly established Growth Hub situated at Waterford Institute of Technology’s School of Business hosted its first blended delivery event on October 7.  The event, titled ‘Mapping a Social Economy Eco-system- The HEI perspective’ was attended by international and national policy makers, local and national government representatives, and social economy and social enterprise educators, support organisations, and social enterprise owners from across Ireland. Over 70 participants attended either online or in-person at the Growth Hub. Both cohorts were able to attend the event using WIT’s hybrid facilities, including technology-enabled virtual presentations from International speakers and simultaneous in-person and online break out rooms The purpose of the event was to enhance awareness of and engagement with the EU Social Economy Canvas as an educational tool to aid mobilisation and sustainability of the existing social economy. The event was designed as an active workshop where participants gained the chance to understand the benefits and challenges associated with building a Social Economy eco-system by working on the Canvas in theme-informed groups. Keynote speakers at the event were Alessandro Rancati, Social Economy Canvas Specialist at the EU Policy Lab and Patrick Klein, Head of Sector Social Economy and Social Enterprise at the European Commission. Both speakers attended virtually, and all attendees could engage with each speaker regardless of location. Alessandro began with a demonstration of the Social Economy Canvas and Patrick followed with details of the EU Social Economy Action Plan. Each was followed by an interactive Q&A, facilitated by coordinated in-person and on-line room managers. Dr Margaret Tynan, WIT Growth Hub Lead noted “It is fitting that our first Growth Hub event addresses Social Enterprise. Supporting students to engage in Social Enterprise activity is an important role for the Growth Hub, and it is an area our students are keen to get involved in”. Funded by the T&L National Forum for the enhancement of teaching and learning in Higher Education and supported by the European Social Economy Regions initiative, this collaborative event was led by Prof Felicity Kelliher of WIT’s Growth Hub, Sineád O Higgins of Europe Direct Waterford and Liz Riches of Waterford Social Enterprise Network. Prof Kelliher noted ‘It has been a pleasure working with Europe Direct Waterford and the Waterford Social Enterprise Network on this event. Our collective goal is to ensure the social economy is not only visible but strongly supported in the Waterford Region. This community generates up to €1.4bn in economic activity and addresses many challenges faced by Irish society each year. Higher Education Institutes including WIT have the potential to meaningfully support the regional social economy eco-system. The goal today was to offer teaching and learning support for the SE community and supporting stakeholders as they mobilise the EU Social Economy canvas in Ireland. The WIT Growth Hub team are delighted to support this initiative.’ GROWTH HUB is a Higher Education Authority Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3 collaborative project involving Technological University Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology. Led locally by Dr. Margaret Tynan, our mission is to encourage growth and entrepreneurial mindsets among our students. EU Social Economy Canvas: A visual sense making framework inspired by design. It helps to capture a visual image of macro-assessment of social economy in Europe while supporting practitioners’ development of new ideas for a regenerative economy at micro-level. This project is in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. European Social Economy Regions (ESER): Launched in February 2018, the ESER initiative is a response of the European Commission to the growing need to increase the visibility of social economy and build networks of stakeholders at regional and local level. Europe Direct Waterford: The Europe Direct information centre based in Waterford City is one of a network of local contact points that serves as the direct link between a person and the ESER/EU Institutions. The Europe Direct information centre is a service which helps people find answers to questions about the European Union. Europe Direct offers information on all kinds of subjects related to the EU, including opportunities and rights as an EU citizen and how to take advantage of them. Waterford Social Enterprise Network is coordinated Waterford Area Partnership, who offer development opportunities for local community groups and individuals.

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