>@Maranus/Município de Amarante
©Maranus/Município de Amarante

The European Investment Bank Institute, together with PortusPark, and in partnership with the Municipality of Amarante, the Intermunicipal Community of Tâmega and Sousa, and the Instituto Empresarial do Tâmega, launched today (19 April) in Amarante the IRIS Regional Social Innovation Incubator.

IRIS is a European pilot project designed to foster regional development through social innovation. It will be implemented in the region from Amarante.

IRIS is a platform for supporting the development of social innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives with the potential to help address the main regional development challenges. Its local operational headquarters will be the Instituto Empresarial do Tâmega in Amarante, thereby harnessing existing good conditions and creating a raft of synergies with the region’s entrepreneurial dynamics.

Supporting social innovation is a global trend that has been fostered by both the EU institutions and national governments as a means of creating new solutions to the social, environmental and economic challenges facing countries, regions and local communities. Examples of social innovations transforming our society might be Wikipedia, a free platform for gathering and sharing information, or – in Portugal – ColorAdd, a colour identification system for colour-blind people.

“The aim of the European Investment Bank and the EIB Institute is to mobilise and bring together the efforts of a group of partners around Tâmega and Sousa’s social entrepreneurs in order to find, implement and leverage sustainable solutions to social problems in a region whose potential is underexploited” said Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the EIB Institute.

At the international level, the EIB Institute promotes European initiatives for the common good fostering economic and social development in the EU Member States. It is responsible for the renowned Social Innovation Tournament, making it the partner of choice for building bridges between nations and creating global synergies.

This project will create all the necessary conditions for accessing knowledge, networks of partnerships and social investors, turning Amarante and the Tâmega and Sousa region into an EU benchmark for starting up, testing and growing new social entrepreneurship initiatives.