DESTINS – a French example of pioneering social innovation laboratory

‘Pour une Dynamique des Entreprises, de la Société, et des Territoires vers l’Innovation Sociale – DESTINS’ (Business, Society and Territory Dynamics towards Social Innovation – DESTINS) is the Joint Laboratory of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de Société of the University of Poitiers (MSHS) and the cooperative agency in social innovation, Ellyx. This laboratory is a perfect example of university-business collaboration for social innovation.

DESTINS focuses on the analysis of social innovation approaches with a strong capacity for social transformation and aims to design a new generation of tools, methodologies, and support systems for high impact social innovation. It also interacts with companies, local authorities, public authorities, and civil society on important social challenges. The goal is to identify to what extent social innovations can generate major transformations, echoing the environmental, social, and economic challenges of French society.

Its scientific program is structured through national and territorial policies, as well as numerous initiatives from businesses and civil society to characterise among the processes of social innovation, the factors that favor the design, structuring and deployment of “disruptive” approaches.

The DESTINS team believe that ”research must be useful, and research in human and social sciences must be of social utility.” This does not mean that research is instrumentalised by the socio-economic partners, but that “investments into research must be justified, and efforts made to finance research must return not in just any old way, but with new tools, and ways to understand the general public and the world in which we are and allow us act in the best way.”

Valorisation at DESTINS

The DESTINS team see valorisation as “an inherent or natural part of social science research, and stakeholders as the key to science research.” Therefore, “valorisation is impossible without scientific mediation and without the actors, the intermediaries.”

Cooperation in social innovation between Ellyx company and the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de Société of the University of Poitiers (MSHS), helped researchers get an insight into new forms of scientific innovation. Company employees were instrumental in transforming challenges into last-longing systems. Cooperation also attracted public funding, and attention from regional actors.

Lessons learned from experience

Successful valorisation requires the articulation of rhythms and synchronization of R&D between different actors. Mistrust between actors can be a barrier to successful valorisation. Therefore, organization, governance and modes of collaboration are important. Also, actors working together ultimately have different capacities, and diverse collective training capacities and finding complementary skills is important. Finally, for the social innovation to occur naturally, the collective dimension is almost inherent.

Authored by:
Nina Branković
Medisa Fočić

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