Faculty & Research
The School

What we do






What is CRESSI?

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 marginalised 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 marginalisation 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. The project began in February 2014 and will conclude in January 2018.

The definition of social innovation used throughout this project is:

The development and delivery of new ideas and solutions (products, services, models, markets, processes) at different socio-structural levels that intentionally seek to change power relations and improve human capabilities, as well as the processes via which these solutions are carried out.

Key themes to be addressed by this project will include:

  • How markets as socio-economic institutions relate to the poor, marginalised and vulnerable
  • What are the drivers of, and barriers to, social innovation in various institutional settings market and non-market
  • What is the role of public policy instruments in developing finance structures and wider eco-systems to support the development and growth of social innovation
  • How can the impact of social innovation be captured and measured at the organizational and national levels

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 marginalisation.

Work packages

The project consists of ten work packages:

  • WP1: Economics, Institutions and Social Innovation: Theory and Practice in Terms of the Vulnerable and Marginalised - completed
  • WP2: Integrated Case-Studies (Qualitative) - completed
  • WP3: Measurement Approaches to Capturing Social Innovation Impact  - completed
  • WP4: Social Versus Technological Innovation - completed
  • WP5: Social Innovation Life Cycles - completed
  • WP6: Policy Analysis  - ongoing
  • WP7: Integrated Case-Studies (Quantitative) - completed
  • WP8: Synthesis - ongoing
  • WP9: Management  - ongoing
  • WP10: Dissemination - ongoing

Each work package will result in a number of project deliverables, including a range of publicly disseminated outputs.

Further information on CRESSI project work packages


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 613261.

Download our brochure
Contact us
Project manager
CRESSI newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest CRESSI news.