Between 3 and 5 July 2023 Sofia Development Association participated in the final event of the “Social Innovation Plus – Centres of Competence (SI PLUS)” project, which took place in Budapest, Hungary.

During the first day of the two-day event, the participants had the opportunity to hear congratulatory addresses and speeches from Miklós Vecsei, Commissioner for Social Inclusion of the Prime Minister of Hungary, Richárd Szabados, Executive Director of IFKA, a partner organisation of the project, and Jörg Mirtl, Social Innovation Expert at L&R Social Research. During the panels related to the financing of social innovations and their accelerators on Hungarian territory, participants were also able to hear the perspectives of a number of experts, representatives of institutions, educational institutions and NGOs.

In the second half of the day, the projects of 10 Hungarian organisations, social enterprises and companies were presented and competed for the awards in IFKA’s special social innovation race. Among them were various urban development projects, health check-ups and services for homeless women, which also won one of the biggest prizes at the event, a psychological support platform for people from different social groups, research on social inequalities and many others.

The second and final day of the closing event of the “Social Innovation Plus – Centres of Competence (SI PLUS)” project started with lectures from representatives of several of the most prestigious Hungarian universities as well as partners from the project’s implementation team. We from the Sofia Development Association shared the challenges we have faced in the last years of the project implementation as well as the achievements we are proud of in the field of social innovation.

Denitsa Lozanova, Director of Research and Analysis and Coordinator of the project, participated in the panel discussion “Competence Centres and Social Innovations – achievements, experience and future plans at the national level” on behalf of SDA.

“We believe that the National Competence Centre for Social Innovation in Bulgaria should be flexible and innovative in its structure and functions.

When we talk about innovation, we talk about collaborative missions as well as co-creation. So the biggest challenge we have is to create something within the Bulgarian legislation that is at the same time flexible and creates opportunities for exactly these processes.

So we started by creating an online space called to bring together organisations, social enterprises and institutions to exchange experiences, ideas and information.

Through this digital beginning of the centres, we can allow ourselves the flexibility and freedom that the community is looking for in the field of social innovation.” shared Denitsa Lozanova.

“The most valuable thing we have achieved through this project is the network we have created. We have a platform where people and organizations meet and exchange ideas, and that is extremely important for us,” she added of what the project has achieved.

Next is the final stage of the project, where the partners will finalise the lessons learned and the achievements of the past years and take forward the path of social innovation in each of the project countries.

The project is funded by the European Commission, the European Social Fund and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation.