Social InnovationCRESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation)

Social Innovation
CRESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation)


What is CRESSI?

The CRESSI Project is a four year project funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme that was initiated in February 2014.

The CRESSI (Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation) project will explore the economic underpinnings of social innovation with a particular focus on how policy and practice can enhance the lives of the most marginalized and disempowered citizens in society.

Overall, the project will take an institutionalist view of the key issues exploring the drivers and structures that lead to marginalization and disempowerment. This research will also aim to set out how interventions drawing on social innovation can address major economic, social and power imbalances and inequalities.

Research Approach

The project draws upon three interlinked strands of theory to provide an overarching and novel conceptual framework:

• Beckert’s social grid model;

• Sen’s Capabilities Approach;

• Mann’s analysis of institutional power structures and their enactments.

The main work packages will focus on: establishing an economic theory and context for social innovation across the European Union; contextualizing social innovation within established research and practice on technological innovation; exploring emergent social innovation ecosystems and lifecycles; setting out effective policy agendas and instruments for fostering social innovation; establishing best practice metrics for capturing the impact of social innovation. In addition, discrete work packages will focus on the overall management of the project and the dissemination of its key findings and contributions.

Data collection

The conceptual and theoretical elements of the project will be tested and revised with a rigorous programme of empirical data collection encompassing qualitative case studies and linked quantitative analyses with a focus on key topic areas across several member states that can inform the Commission debates on building smart economies that reduce inequality and socio-economic marginalization.

Work Packages

The project consists of ten work packages. Further details here.

In March 2015, CRESSI released a first series of working papers, based on the finalised project deliverables:

  • Work Package 1: Economics, Institutions and Social Innovation: Theory and Practice in Terms of the Vulnerable and Marginalised

This Work Package was successfully concluded in March 2015. The following WP1 publications can be downloaded from the CRESSI website:

– Deliverable D1.1 “Report on institutions, social innovation & system dynamics from the perspective of the marginalized”:

  •  A preliminary synthesis of our discussion so far is available in the CRESSI working paper, “An extended social grid model for the study of marginalization processes and social innovation”, by Alex Nicholls and Rafael Ziegler. Download report here.
  • This preliminary synthesis is based on several in depth working papers, accompanied by an introduction and summary prepared by Christopher Houghton Budd, C.W.M. (Ro) Naastepad and Cees van Beers. Access the reports here.

– Deliverable D1.2 “Re-assessing social innovation to tackle marginalisation” – a policy briefing prepared by Alex Nicholls and Dan Edmiston, based on the main findings of the D1.1 reports. Download report (pdf) here.

  • Deliverable D1.3 “Report Contrasting CRESSI’s Approach of Social Innovation with that of Neoclassical Economics” – a series of reports edited by Christopher Houghton Budd, C.W.M. (Ro) Naastepad and Cees van Beers. Download report (pdf) here.
  • Deliverable D1.4 “CRESSI’s approach to social innovation: Lessons for Europe 2020” – a policy briefing prepared by Alex Nicholls and Daniel Edmiston, based on the main findings of the D1.3 reports. Download report (pdf) here.

– Work Package 3: Measurement Approaches to Capturing Social Innovation Impact:

Work on the WP is currently ongoing. In April, a first report was published online:

• Deliverable 3.2 “Training material on accounting: A summary table analysing different data collection methods that highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each tool in terms of capturing social innovation impacts”, by Christopher Houghton Budd. Download report (pdf) here.

To receive regular updates about the progress of the CRESSI Project, please subscribe to receive our project newsletters here.


For further information about the Project please contact the CRESSI Project Manager at: