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Background

Addressing and tackling societal challenges often calls for new ideas and collaboration across sectors. Therefore, a regional partnership was established in Örebro county, Sweden, in January 2015, with the aim to identify and collaborate on promoting and creating social innovation. The partnership originated from a cooperation established in the mid 1990’s, where the civil society and the public sector decided to meet on a regular basis to discuss activities related to social economy. The discussions resulted in the Partnership for Social Innovation and can be seen as an expression of the ambition to broaden and deepen the collaboration between the involved parties.

Why a Partnership?

Sweden has a long history of democratic traditions and strong popular movements. But when the OECD analyzed the Swedish innovation system, they conclude a need to improve the ability to capture innovation initiatives from citizens, that the efforts to solve societal challenges are inadequate, that the innovation processes in general is too narrow focusing solely on research and business development, and that there is a general lack of focus on social innovation. The OECD recommend Sweden to better identify and involve other actors at the regional level (beyond universities and the industry) to stimulate learning processes, strengthen investments in social innovation, and to better utilize national and EU initiatives to strengthen regional development. The Partnership for Social Innovation tries to respond to these recommendations. The purpose of the partnership is to provide a platform in order to contribute to and support development of social innovations throughout Örebro county.

Who we are

Civil society / social economy organizations are at the heart of the partnership, along with the public sector and the Örebro University. The civil society / social economy is represented by large membership organizations and organizations aimed to support and strengthen the development of the social economy, adult education associations, and folk high schools. The public sector is represented by municipalities, organizations and authorities on both regional and state level.
In October 2016, the partnership had 25 participating organizations. It is coordinated by Region Örebro county.

The importance of learning together

We are convinced that we have a lot to learn from how others respond to societal challenges, but we also know that we have important experience and knowledge to share. Therefore, we willingly take an active role in various networks and projects where we can encourage and generate rewarding exchanges. It often results in increased knowledge in terms of methods and procedures on how to involve citizens and organizations and it also generates a deeper understanding of content-related solutions in tackling societal challenges.

What does the Partnership do?

A social innovation is not limited to a particular sector or field of activity. A social innovation can occur in all societal sectors, but is often guided by a ”bottom-up” approach where ideas are carried out by citizens, organizations or employees. Therefore, the partnership is strongly influenced by community development methods and dialogue oriented methods.

We have launched a series of research circles in the region. We invited citizens, business representatives, politicians, and public servants to participate. The purpose was to initiate discussions on social innovation and to highlight ideas that could develop into social innovations. We organize learning seminars where both researchers and practitioners participate. The partnership serves as a meeting place and a collaboration forum for the participating parties. We develop and implement common projects on social innovation. We discuss societal challenges and how they can be met. We jointly try to find ways to support the emergence of social innovation. A major part of our cooperation is discussing ideas that originate from individuals and organizations in our county. Our joint advisory group is of great importance in meeting people with ideas. The partnership can support these entrepreneurs in developing their ideas and in implementing them.

About Örebro county

Geographically Örebro county is situated in the centre of Sweden, about 200 km from Stockholm and 300 km from Gothenburg.

The county offers a varied landscape and have diverse historical and cultural traditions. Many homesteads and old smelting-houses bear witness of past centuries when iron ore was mined in the northern part of the county. The central part is dominated by large areas of farmland, estates, and small industrial communities. Fishing and boating characterize the districts around the lakes Vättern and Hjälmaren.

In 2015 the county had a population of 291,012. Almost half of the county’s residents live in Örebro municipality. The remaining population resides in the other eleven municipalities.

Örebro municipality – in particular Örebro City – is growing extensively. Housing needs are significant, both in form of houses and apartments. At the same time, there are several residential areas in Örebro, characterized by social challenges and difficulties. There is a great need to reduce social exclusion in these areas.

While Örebro and other municipalities in the county are growing, there are some municipalities that shows the opposite trend. The population decreases, employers are leaving and the youth migrate to larger cities. The need for investments in labor / employment / education etc. is pressing. This uneven development contributes to tensions between urban and rural areas and development in the county.

In recent years the county has received many new residents. Most of the new inhabitants of the region reside in Örebro. Immigration, in combination with attracting young people, are the main reasons for this population increase. Örebro municipality is growing partly at the expense of the other municipalities in the region. Approximately one fifth of the population growth in Örebro municipality is explained by migration from other municipalities in the county. Throughout the 2000’s, immigration has been major part of the county’s increase in population. Without immigration, population would doubtlessly be decreasing. 14 percent, which correspond to 40 000 people, of the region’s population is born in a foreign country. The largest groups come from Finland, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Turkey. Population growth in the region is thus, in large part, a result of challenges and difficulties in the world.

Contact

For further information and questions, please contact

Anders Bro
Development Manager, PhD
Region Örebro County

+46 72 146 87 81
anders.bro@regionorebrolan.se