The Danish Municipality Network on Social Innovation

Karsten Frøhlich Hougaard

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Kommunalt netværk for social innovation

The Danish Municipality Network on Social Innovation

The Danish welfare system is traditionally based on a large public sector. With the average working Dane paying 44,2% in marginal tax, the public sector is expected to be the actor that detects social needs, formulates appropriate solutions and implements them effectively.

The municipalities are the ones responsible for making this happen. However, as in the rest of Europe, Danish municipalities are finding themselves on a burning platform. With shrinking budgets and an expected 60% growth in the 65+ age group over the next thirty years, Danish municipalities are desperately looking for new ways to address a growing number of social challenges.

The Danish Municipality Network on Social Innovation is run by the Danish Technological Institute as a platform for local government representatives to receive and exchange knowledge and inspiration related to social innovation. Currently, 30 municipalities, representing roughly half of the Danish population, have joined the network – and the number is increasing.

The network addresses a number of crucial questions:

  • In which areas of public service provision can companies, volunteers, organisations, citizens groups and ordinary citizens contribute successfully to solving social challenges?
  • How can we make sure that new partnerships between these actors are structured in the most efficient way?
  • How can we make sure that no educated or trained professionals working in the public sector are made redundant?
  • How can we maintain a high-quality service provision when new non-professional partners are increasingly becoming involved?
  • What incentives could encourage companies and ordinary citizens to take responsibility for their communities?
  • How do we ensure optimal interaction between new partners and public professionals?
  • How can we make promising initiatives sustainable and scalable?

Every year, the network participants gather for two whole-day meetings and 2 to 3 afternoon events. The two whole-day events are structured so that the first event is a conference where national and international experts and practitioners are invited to share their knowledge and experiences and engage in dialogue and debate with the participants.

The second event is a workshop where the participants are divided into groups to discuss, share, and find ways to facilitate social innovation in their respective local communities. Each afternoon event will focus on a particular pressing issue related to social innovation and is also open to non-members. In addition, all network members have access to an online platform containing a discussion forum, a case-bank of relevant and inspiring national and international social innovation initiatives and a resource library with relevant articles, reports, links to websites, books, newsletters, etc.