Proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem: boosting the digital transition of social economy enterprises and SMEs 

EU funding opportunities

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In the framework of the Single Market Programme – COSME, EISMEA has published a call to promote the digital transition of social economy enterprises.

The call has three objectives:

Primary objectives (mandatory):

  • Strengthen the digital transition and capacities of social economy SMEs through capacity building activities, knowledge transfer and transnational cooperation, and thus promote their economic, organisational and impact performance.
  • Supporting knowledge transfer and transnational cooperation amongst different partners, such as businesses and ‘enabling organisations’.
  • Strengthening the digital capacity and offer of ‘enabling organisations’ in the social economy. In doing so, those organisations can multiply the effects of this call and support their members, clients and stakeholders in their digital transition as well as driving digital social innovations.

Secondary objective (not mandatory):

  • Strengthening the role of social economy as a driver for digital social innovation and consequent digital solutions and tools developed to answer social, societal and environmental challenges.


1. Mapping and capacity building (mandatory)

Specifically the applicants must:

(i) identify and map the main digital needs and opportunities of the identified target group (in relation to the identified challenges, opportunities and innovation potentials), and

(ii) directly supporting social economy SMEs and their enabling organisations by setting up capacity-building activities that address those needs.

2. Digital social innovation (optional; related to the secondary objective)

Additional activities to point 1, aimed at supporting the use and adoption of digital social innovation should aim to:

  • Explore the potential of digital solutions to the identified challenge;
  • Adapt existing successful digital tools and technologies to implement them in another context;
  • Promote innovative approaches and strategies within SMEs in the social economy.

Proposals should focus on at least one of the seven areas of action in the transition path for the social and neighbourhood economy:

1. New business models – the platform economy

2. Data maturity and data-driven business models

3. Public and private technology partnerships and their support

4. Data sharing, data management and code of conduct

5. Support for digital social innovation and “Tech for Good” entrepreneurship.

6. Access to technology

7. Enhancing digital skills by and within the social economy

Eligible candidates are social economy enabling organisations (intermediaries) operating at national, regional or local level and support organisations active at European level representing social economy entities (such as federations and sectoral associations or networks): they can be set up as business support organisations, incubators and accelerators, federations or associations sectors representing social economy entities, providing support services to social economy entities or federating social entities.

Project proposals must be submitted by partnerships of at least 6 partners from at least 3 different eligible countries, composed as follows: at least one intermediary social economy organisation per State involved and at least one (maximum two) active support organisation at European level.

Participation in the partnership of public authorities or their representatives, non-profit organisations, NGOs, IT and service providers and technical support, and competence centres, think tanks and research bodies in the field of digital education, digital social innovation, provision of inclusive digital services, tech for good is also encouraged,  social tech, digital commons, platforms based on the social economy, AI for good, assistive technologies, and private and for-profit organisations, including social economy SMEs, traditional SMEs and larger companies, as well as financial institutions. 

Consortia should be composed of organisations with different degrees of digital maturity so that knowledge transfer to less advanced organisations is facilitated.

The total budget of the call amounts to 8,000,000 euros; 6-8 projects will be financed.

The projects will receive a contribution of between 900,000 and 1,300,000 euros.

Duration of projects: 24-36 months

Expiry Date: 21/11/2023

The official documentation is available here

Written by: Margherita Genua

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