How does it work?


The identification of Initiatives for Innovation and a High Potential for Social Entrepreneurship is undertaken using ES+ methodology. This methodology was created by researchers at the IES-Social Business School in partnership with staff at INSEAD, ISCTE, the Universidade Católica do Porto and a doctoral student from the University of Lancaster.

The purpose of this methodology is to identify and map socially and environmentally transformative business models with growth potential, close to local communities by promoting their participation throughout the research. This allows assessing the needs and potential of the social sector in general and disseminating and sharing the best practices at the regional and local level.

It is a methodology which is internationally recognized by the boards of good practices of the EMES European Research Network and the European Commission. It aims to identify, in a participatory and rigorous way, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship projects with high potential impact.

The methodology has been implemented in three regions of the country: in Cascais, in Vila Real and in Oporto, as well as in a specific national network, the Escolhas Programme.
For mapping MIES Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship initiatives, a field research methodology will be implemented - ES+ - developed by IES-Social Business School in 2008.

The basic guiding principle for ES+ is to encourage the development of Social Entrepreneurship. The first step is the empowerment and training of local transformative agents.

The target for the study therefore comprises:

  • Initiatives by private profit-making organisations;
  • Initiatives by private non-profit-making organisations (foundations, local development bodies; charities; development and environmental NGOs; associations; private social welfare institutions; social welfare, housing and construction cooperatives);
  • Informal civil initiatives, including individual initiatives;
  • Public and local authority initiatives;
  • Other Initiatives (other cooperatives; museums).
  • All projects in progress are considered (excluding those in the design phase or prospective only) in regions within the scope of the research.

One goal of the selection process is to find and identify not only the Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship initiatives considered the best, but also those that have a tremendous potential. Thus, it will be possible to provide future support for the development of socially entrepreneurial skills.

The ES+ research methodology is organised into concrete phases in accordance with specific objectives:

  • Phase I | Contacts, Face-to-face Interviews by Privileged Observers: Privileged Observers are considered to be all those who, by their professional or personal experience, maintain contact with initiatives that promote social change within the geographical scope of the project.

    The specific objectives of this phase are to identify initiatives for innovation and social entrepreneurship which can potentially fit in the research criteria and to identify Privileged Observers.

  • Phase II | Screening telephone calls to the Initiative Leaders identified: the specific objective is to collect detailed information on the initiatives identified in Phase I related to the research criteria, in order to be able to get more information for the pre-selection process for Phase III.
  • Phase III | In-depth Survey of Leaders of the Initiatives Selected: a specific objective of this phase is to meet the entrepreneurs responsible for the initiatives selected and to collect detailed information in person about their working methods and methodologies, available resources and major needs uncovered by the Initiatives.


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