E.g., 06/24/2024
E.g., 06/24/2024
Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion: From Bright Spots to System Change

The dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Europe during 2015–16 sparked a burst of social innovation. Grassroots groups, tech start-ups, and businesses of all sizes brought new thinking and resources to bear on the challenges of receiving and integrating newcomers into European societies. Many of these challenges continue to echo across education systems, health services, labor and housing markets, and neighborhoods, even as the keen sense of crisis has waned.

This report explores how social innovation in the field of refugee inclusion has evolved in the three years since the peak of the crisis. Given the successes and limitations of different initiatives thus far, it asks the question: what can social enterprises, funding bodies, and policymakers do to maintain the momentum and turn promising initiatives into broader system change?

In the decades to come, European societies will have to grapple with a number of fundamental structural challenges—from changes in the world of work to new pressures on housing and health-care systems. Much will depend, the authors conclude, on governments’ ability to build on and extend the reach of the current surge in innovation, and to make the case that “innovation for refugee inclusion can be innovation for all.”

This study draws on a number of convenings, advisory board meetings, and informal discussions that have taken place since 2016 as part of the Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion (SI4RI) conference, co-organized by the Migration Policy Institute Europe with the U.S. and Canadian Missions to the European Union and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. The Promise and Peril of Social Innovation

III. Promising Models of Social Innovation

A. New Models of Economic Inclusion

B. Creating Human-Centered Integration Services

C. Co-Housing

D. Community-Building Initiatives

IV. The Next Phase: Delivering on the Promise of Social Innovation

A. Designing Innovative Partnerships

B. Improving Impact Assessment and Evaluation

C. Supporting Innovative Funding Models

V. Final Reflections