Social innovations are unknown territory for most

The results of the recent Focus poll for the Pontis Foundation were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of recent social innovations supported by the Pontis Foundation: the Budúcnosť Inak (Future Differently) project.One of recent social innovations supported by the Pontis Foundation: the Budúcnosť Inak (Future Differently) project. (Source: Courtesy of the Pontis Foundation)

Social innovations remain quite an unknown topic for most Slovaks. However, they do realise they should help solve the most serious problems in society.

Social innovations – are based on new solutions to long-term problems in society. They do not necessarily have to create a product, but can also be some kind of methodology. They monitor the social impact on society.

Social companies – business entities and non-governmental organisations that connect activities beneficial for society with entrepreneurship. They monitor financial profit and impact on society.

This stems from a poll carried out by the Focus agency for the Pontis Foundation think tank in mid-May 2020 on more than 1,011 respondents.

As many as four-fifths (or 81 percent) of those polled said they are not aware of any social innovation, either in Slovakia or abroad. On the other hand, the remaining fifth named various areas they consider social innovations, including Roma issues, social aid, solutions to unemployment and social companies, and solutions for seniors.

“I wasn’t very surprised as the public isn’t usually aware of the term social innovations,” Martina Kolesárová, executive director of the Pontis Foundation, told The Slovak Spectator. However, she was surprised that the people who were aware of this topic could identify concrete examples.

Responses affected by the coronavirus

The majority of respondents expect that social innovations should be carried out by the state and the municipalities. On a scale from 0 (should not carry out social innovations) to 10 (certainly should carry out social innovations), the former received an average score of 8.1, and the latter 7.6.

However, the state does not usually have mechanisms enabling it to create social innovations. Instead, they are generated by the non-governmental sector.

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