• Workshop

Towards Social Innovation Digital Ecosystems (SIDEs): Challenges and Opportunities

21/05/2024, 2–6 pm (CEST) | Essen, College for Social Sciences and Humanities / hybrid

How can digital ecosystems support social innovation? This workshop, co-organised by Douglas Wegner, Senior Fellow at the College, and his tandem partner Jürgen Howaldt (TU Dortmund University), assembles different perspectives of invited experts in the field of social innovation. Examining cases in Latin America and Europe, the workshop addresses success factors, challenges, and opportunities.


The concept of innovation ecosystem has been used to describe a set of heterogeneous actors connected in a self-organised environment, in which these actors aim to produce joint value through the exchange of knowledge, combination of resources and collaboration. Although the concept has widely been used to refer to technological innovation, social innovation initiatives can also benefit from ecosystems since they reunite actors whose complementarities and resources can be combined to ease, accelerate, and disseminate social innovations. More recently, researchers and practitioners have directed attention to social innovation digital ecosystems (SIDEs), i.e., ecosystems “that provide the interaction of a community formed by actors whose objective is to develop social innovations to meet society's challenges through a common technological platform and a collaborative, inclusive, and open process” (Chueri, 2021). In this workshop, participants will discuss how digital ecosystems can support social innovation and what challenges such ecosystems must overcome to effectively foster and disseminate social innovation initiatives. Attendees will learn from experts in the field of social innovation as well as from cases in Latin America and Europe. As a main outcome of the discussions, the workshop aims to produce a policy brief that summarises recommendations for practitioners and policymakers and offers researchers a set of suggestions for future research.

Programme (updated)


Opening – Prof. Jürgen Howaldt and Douglas Wegner


Social innovation ecosystems and the ecosystem in Dortmund – Christoph Kaletka, Social Research Center Dortmund (SfS), TU Dortmund University


The role of digital platforms to foster social innovation in cities: the experience of Observatory of Social Innovation at Florianópolis, Brazil – Carolina Andion, State University of Santa Catarina (UDESC), Brazil


Discussion, questions and answers


The digital experience of “Brussels by us” – Laura Temmermann, imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Questions and answers


Coffee break


Results of the empirical investigation on Social Innovation Digital Ecosystems - Douglas Wegner, Fundação Dom Cabral, Brazil / College for Social Sciences and Humanities


Hands-on: Where are we, and what could we do to move forward to stimulate vibrant and effective social innovation digital ecosystems?


Discussion and concluding remarks





Organisation & Chair

Prof. Douglas Wegner

Fundação Dom Cabral (Brazil) | Business Administration


Douglas Wegner is a professor of the Professional Master in Administration at Fundação Dom Cabral, a business school in Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is currently co-leader of the track on “Interorganizational and Interpersonal Relations” at Anpad, the National Association of Graduate Programs and Research in Administration, and member of the research group Collab4Good, which focuses on grand challenges, collaborative governance, innovation ecosystems, entrepreneurial ecosystems, social innovation, and inter organisational cooperation. His current research interests include collaborative strategies and networks, network governance, and network orchestration. He also works as associate editor of Revista Base for the topics of Collaboration and Interorganisational Relations. Besides the academic activities, Douglas worked as a business consultant, forming and developing strategic networks in Brazil. Douglas Wegner holds a PhD in Business Administration from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (2011), Brazil. He was a visiting researcher at TU Dortmund University (2019) and the University of Sevilla (2016) and published various articles in peer reviewed journals.

Project description



Tandem Partner

Prof. Jürgen Howaldt

TU Dortmund University, Social Research Centre Dortmund | Sociology, social innovation research


Prof. Jürgen Howaldt

TU Dortmund University, Social Research Centre Dortmund | Sociology, social innovation research


Jürgen Howaldt is the director of the Social Research Centre Dortmund and professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of TU Dortmund University. He is an internationally renowned expert in the field of social innovation. His research fields include social sciences-based innovation research and social innovation, new management concepts, and organisational development and consulting. As a sociologist, his internationally oriented research activities focus on the significance of social innovations for society as well as on socio-technical change processes in various social fields.