Steinbeis Europa Zentrum drives social entrepreneurship through innovative approaches

POSITIVE Social Innovation Training in Freiburg

Innovation, be it in a traditional or technological context, is fundamental to social progress, but is certainly subject to tensions and challenges. Interestingly, social innovators are often viewed in isolation from the challenges faced by technological innovators. However, studies have shown that social innovators face similar hurdles to developing and scaling their businesses as traditional firms - be it market access, financial sustainability, entrepreneurial skills or building appropriate networks.

EU project POSITIVE connects social and technological partners from three countries

Through the project POSITIVE, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum and five other partners are taking a new approach to transferring innovative methods to social enterprises, linking technological and social innovations. The project brings together partner organizations from Italy, Lithuania and Germany, each consisting of a "social" and a "technological" partner. Steinbeis Europa Zentrum is working in tandem with Grünhof e.V. from Baden-Württemberg as a representative of the social ecosystem.

The concept

The project is structured in three phases: An internal and external training phase in 2023, focused on gathering knowledge and understanding of dynamics of the social innovation (SI) ecosystem. The second phase is the heart of the project, the POSITIVE Impact Challenge. This is an adapted version of the Open Innovation format as a kind of hackathon, specifically aimed at giving actors from the SI ecosystem the opportunity to acquire know-how and methods to increase innovation capacity. This is achieved by helping to shape the process of open innovation of products, services - or even business models - together with young innovators, researchers and end users or potential customers. In the third phase, networking events will contribute to a sustainable connection between the two ecosystems and set the groundwork for future adoption and replication of the challenge model.

Developing an ecosystem and training for social enterprises

The year 2023 was characterized by the transfer of knowledge and the interconnection of both ecosystems. Under the leadership of Grünhof e.V., a customized training concept on the ecosystem of social innovation was designed and adapted to the conditions in Italy and Lithuania. The trainings and workshops promoted the dialog between the technological and the social ecosystem. The training in Baden-Württemberg was carried out in October by our project partner Grünhof e.V. and the Social Innovation Lab Freiburg with our support. The training covered the basics of social innovation and social entrepreneurship, impact analyses, business models, financing opportunities and legal forms as well as current social challenges. 13 committed and motivated participants from Baden-Württemberg took part in the three-part training with two online and one in-person session.

Social Innovation Toolkit: A step towards replicability and strengthening social entrepreneurship

Based on the experience gained from these training sessions, the social partners developed the POSITIVE Social Innovation Toolkit under the leadership of Grünhof e.V.. Aimed at empowering facilitators and individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver social innovation trainings, the toolkit provides a thorough, 10 steps plan including comprehensive information derived from the cutting-edge knowledge in SI, merged from the collective expertise of the POSITIVE partners. As such, it fills the gaps in the entrepreneurial and digital skills of many social enterprises, often due to limited support from traditional business organizations, and serves as a comprehensive guide for future planning of social innovation trainings.

Looking ahead: The POSITIVE Impact Challenges addressing the needs of social organizations

The year 2024 will be dedicated to the three POSITIVE Impact Challenges. Teams of students will work closely with a team mentor to actively support social organizations in the digitalization of their products and services. By applying this open innovation method, the initiative aims to contribute to sustainably strengthening the innovation capacity of social enterprises. In addition, the POSITIVE partners are planning a series of regional networking events, culminating in the capitalization event in Vilnius, Lithuania, in September 2024.


News Partnermeeting in Italy:


„Social innovations are playing an increasingly important role in solving the pressing challenges of our time. However, they do not work on their own. Reliable partnerships that combine different areas of expertise are the key to success. With the Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, we have found the perfect partner for the POSITIVE project. Their extensive experience and professional implementation of EU projects perfectly complements Grünhof's explorative and practical approach. It's a match!“

Florian Boukal, Managing Board Member Grünhof e.V.

Contact us!

Miljana Cosic
Mirjam Zillober
Contact us

Contact us!

Miljana Cosic
Mirjam Zillober

Customer references