An international Social Innovation ecosystem gathering takes places in Arantzazu

The first global gathering of social innovation leaders

20 social innovation leaders coming from Europe and Canada start shaping an international Social Innovation ecosystem.

From the 24th to the 26th of April a group of Social Innovation leaders have met in Arantzazu to continue shaping a collaboration space and agree on the next steps. Social innovators, thought leaders and practitioners, innovation ecosystems catalysers and orchestrators have participated in the gathering coming from Finland, Ireland, Estonia, Malta, Belgium, Norway, and the Basque Country. Alongside the representatives of innovation ecosystems, there is an advisory board formed by experts and practitioners in systems change coming from small nations as well as bigger states such as Canada and France.

It is true that the level of change is global, and that our scale is very small. However, the changes ahead invite us to develop a new agenda as a country. If we are tosuccessfully respond to the challenges of this new world, we need to embrace new ways of looking at the world and new ways of organizing. Because only by strengthening a network of relationships and collaboration between public institutions, people, and organized society will we be able to respond to our challenges as a society. To strengthen these networks, it is critical to explore and activate the institutions of the future, the relationships between organizations and actors, and governance models. We should work with innovation ecosystems to build these networks.

The first global gathering of social innovation leaders

The international Social Innovation ecosystem aims to create a network of territories, regions, nations or advanced states in the world that are comparable to the scale and socio-cultural and economic characteristics of the Basque Country, and which are also innovative. Thus, several regions and countries with advanced practices in the field of innovation ecosystems worldwide have been identified. The aim of this collaborative space is to connect transformation efforts happening in different regions, share lessons learned and develop new knowledge in collaboration.

In 2022 in the framework of Arantzazulab’s fellowship program, Michelle Zucker, kicked off a research to explore innovation ecosystems internationally with the aim of capturing what had been the key elements that supported them. From that piece of research, we identified cutting-edge practices and decided to bring these people together to reflect on how we could connect the innovation efforts happening across regions. In 2023 we kicked off the Small nations alliance inviting different innovation ecosystem orchestrators to start framing the initiative. From January to April, we have developed the ground-work programme meeting weekly to get to know each other, our work and start envisioning the spaces for shared experimentations.

Meeting in Arantzazu for three days has enabled to take this collaboration to the next level. We have delved deep into the work that each of us are doing, we have reflected on the big questions that each of us are encountering and we have envisioned experiments to deepen our knowledge as well as practice in collaboration.

Thank you to all the participants for their participation!


Jaakko Porokoukka Sitra (Finland)
Teele  Pehk Domus Partensis (Estonia)
Gonca  Kara Demir Innovation System Builder – Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)
Sarah Prosser Working on a variety of initiatives in Ireland and Norway
Michelle Baldwin Community Foundations Canada – Leading the Transition Innovation Group
Ana  Gomez Well Being Economy Alliance
Bria Davis
Jayne  Engle Dark Matter Labs
Gorka  Espiau ALC (Basque Country)
Anthony Zacharzewski The Democratic Society
Antonio  Casado EHU – Basque Country University – Aktiba research group (Basque Country)
Anna Grant Sitra – Nature and daily life team. Sustainability solutions (Finland)
Stéphane  Vincent La 27e Région – co-founder and director
Sylvine  Bois-Choussy La 27e Région – International cooperation
Naiara  Goia Arantzazulab – Managing Director
Michelle  Zucker The Long Conversation Studio
Joanna Petkiewicz The Long Conversation Studio
Ione Ardaiz Arantzazulab – Projects Lead
Ane Miren Valenciano Arantzazulab – Projects Coordinator