Digital platforms as drivers of social innovation

Socially innovative initiatives (SIIs) often lack appropriate support. The project explores how SIIs can be better connected and provided with relevant resources through digital platform technologies.



The societal value creation of SIIs is often limited because they are insufficiently connected or because their approaches have limited scalability (Murray et al., 2020). Digital platforms (DP) are a promising means to support the value creation process and overall impact of SIIs. This is supported by the fact that DP enable new forms of exchange and collaboration, fostering entrepreneurial opportunities and innovative business models (Nambisan, 2017; Nambisan et al., 2019; Parker et al., 2016). It is undisputed that DP can make an important contribution to SIIs (Chalmers, 2013; Chesbrough & Di Minin, 2014; Gregori & Holzmann, 2020), e.g., by increasing their capacity to innovate (Huang et al., 2013) or by enabling access to relevant resources (Logue & Grimes, 2019). At the same time, it is clear that technical solutions alone are often not sufficient to ensure the value creation of SIIs (Mohrman & Worby, 2018). Based on the assumption that DP will only reach their full potential when complemented by social support mechanisms (Briggs et al., 2010), the following research questions are addressed: What technical functionalities do DP require to be able to adequately support the value creation of SII? What additional social support mechanisms (e.g., workshops, network meetings, community management) need to be linked to DP for SIIs to realize their full potential?

Course of action

In the project, four specific thematic areas (sustainable food, socio-economic integration, renewable energy, sharing and lending initiatives) of social innovations are analyzed in more detail. The following SIIs form the empirical basis of the project. Sustainable nutrition  Berner Bio Offensive 2025 (development of partnerships and new business models in the BIO Agri-Food sector; a selection of organic producers and processing companies will participate in the project. Socio-economic integration • Tbd Renewable Energy • Tbd Sharing and lending initiatives (Sharing Economy) • Tbd