Study on Digital and Social Economy

New technologies and digitization: opportunities and challenges for the social economy and social enterprises (Contract No EASME/COSME/2017/024)

Logo of the project "Study on Digital and Social Economy"

Funding Source

European Commission – Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises


May 2018 – May 2019 (12 months)

Total budget

198.500,00 €

Q-PLAN role

Project Coordinator



The study explored the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies pose for the social economy and social enterprises, and obtained a better understanding of the ways in which the design and implementation of EU and national policies and initiatives (can) support the digitisation and uptake of novel digital technologies for the social economy.

Our Study Team led by Q-PLAN INTERNATIONAL and supported by the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research/University of Manchester and the Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology / United National University and supplemented by Dr V. Kostakis, Dr. C. Giotitsas, Dr E. Amanatidou and Dr F. Niglia, accomplished to:

  • Explore how digital platforms and advanced digital technologies are currently used by social economy initiatives, and what implications this poses on regulations, labour and skills
  • Reflect upon the requirements, implications, challenges and obstacles associated with the digitalisation of social economy initiatives through the identification, in-depth analysis and exploration of 32 digitalised social economy initiatives identified in the following 4 EU countries: Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, and the UK
  • Vision possible futures and potential trajectories of advanced digital technologies – including platforms, open source and disruptive digital technologies (AI, Big Data, etc.) – and what their implications may be upon social economy and social enterprises
  • Provide recommendations and practical policy suggestions to EU Member States policy and decision-makers for designing and implementing policies and measures that can promote and facilitate the digitalisation and uptake of digital technologies by social economy and social enterprises
  • Facilitate the identification, promotion and uptake of lessons learnt on how new technologies inspire the social economy and social entrepreneurship, and how such technologies can be inspired by social economy practices.

For the accomplishment of these objectives, a multimodal methodological approach, combining quantitative as well as qualitative means and methodologies, case studies, interviews, foresight and policy workshops was implemented.

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Q-PLAN responsibilities

  • Overall coordination of the project and representation of the consortium in EASME/DG GROW.
  • Exploration of the use of Digital Platforms in social economy, with particular attention paid on regulation, skills and labour implications.
  • Coordination of the forward-looking exercise attempting to explore the potential trajectories digital technologies – digital platforms, IoT, AI, Big Data, open source, etc. – could take in the next 15 years and their implications on social economy.
  • Organisation of the policy workshop, with the participation of policy stakeholders and social economy representatives.
  • Elaboration of practical policy recommendations on how to improve the uptake and digitalisation of social economy across Europe.
  • Promotion of the project’s activities and findings through its wide national and European networks.