Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation


The Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation (CrESSI) project sought to explore the economic underpinnings of social innovation, with a focus on how policy and practice can enhance the lives of the most marginalised and disempowered citizens in society. The project began in February 2014 and concluded in January 2018.

Key questions addressed by the project included:

  • 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 organisational and national levels

The project drew 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 project consisted of ten work packages, which focused on:

  • Establishing an economic theory and context for social innovation across the European Union
  • Contextualising 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

 Further information on CrESSI project work packages.

Main findings

iron grid wall art

Main findings will be published in the book 'Creating Economic Space for Social Innovation'.  These findings were also presented at the final conference in January 2018. 

The team also premiered a documentary at the conference. The film explores the topic of marginalisation and social innovation, closely following two approaches co-developed by CrESSI researchers. 

CrESSI documentary: Air beneath their wings

Modern architecture staircase


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