ZSI (Centre for Social Innovation) is a private non-profit research organisation, initially established in 1990 as an association according to Austrian law with officially recognised common public interest. It is Austria’s most successful social scientific research institute in FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020.
ZSI conducts research on any kind of socially embedded innovation, by deployment of innovative research, education, advisory services and co-ordination of networks, to (i) support socially appreciated forms of innovations, (ii) develop, research and disseminate social innovations, (iii) analyse, promote and evaluate scientific collaboration, (iv) strengthen an open solidly united society, and thereby (v) help to implement the visionary prospect of a better world.
The main funders and clients are national ministries and research funding agencies, municipalities, different directorates of the European Commission, OECD, ILO, UN entities and other public bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). ZSI performs project-based agency functions for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research in promotion and support of international STI cooperation and it hosts the Austrian Platform for Research and Technology Policy Evaluation.
ZSI currently employs around 60 people, of whom 50 hold academic degrees and are widely experienced in quantitative and qualitative social scientific methods, including the evaluation of different indicator systems. They are working mainly in interdisciplinary research fields and on projects, in the following three units:
- Research Policy and Development
- Work and Equal Opportunities
- Technology and Knowledge
Thus, ZSI addresses social innovation in a wide range of fields. This includes health, energy, environment, sustainable development, etc. and builds on experience to analyse indicators and develop research and innovation policies as well as labour market policies and inclusion/migration.
ZSI is well experienced in coordinating complex projects (such as the currently running Horizon 2020 projects under ZSI coordination: RI-LINKS2UA, BLACK SEA HORIZON, BLOOM, and S4D4C) and in working on inter-regional issues. This includes being involved in a range of projects supported under different Interreg programmes such as RaiSE, Excellence-in-ReSTI, social(i)makers, SENSES, ResInfra@DR, et al. ZSI also has wide experience in the development of engagement strategies and the coordination of stakeholder platforms (e.g. acting as secretariat for the Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan countries and implementing projects) as well as the implementation of consultations, peer learning activities or foresight processes and in different facilitation techniques implementing events that support knowledge sharing.
ZSI is a full member of the MetropolisNet, short for European Metropolis Employment Network. This unique network of different organisations develops and implements local strategies for employment and social inclusion in a number of European cities. Through its projects, ZSI is also aware of and in touch with active networks in different policy areas.