Building a European Network of Incubators for Social Innovation

Peer-to-peer theorist Michel Bauwens recently reflected after a visit to HUB Amsterdam, “In these experimental laboratories of collaborative practice, what we are doing is building not just a civic infrastructure for cooperation, but also a new culture, the production of a new, commons and peer-oriented human subjectivity. The HUB is one of the globally networked places where this future is being constructed.”

It is in this view that 6 HUBs in Europe (Amsterdam, Bucharest, London-Kings Cross, Milan, Stockholm, and Vienna) have come together as pivot points within their regions – in partnership with i-propeller, DIESES the European Association of Development Agencies (EURADA), the European Network of the Foundations for Social Economy (PEFONDES), and Cariplo Foundation – to launch the BENISI project. BENISI – Building a European Network of Incubators for Social Innovation – is a three year EU-supported project to support the scale-up of 300 social innovations across Europe.

“Europe is not facing a crisis of opportunity. On the ground in our HUBs, we witness every day citizens responding to the times through prototyping entrepreneurial initiatives that make their communities a better place.” says Alberto Masetti-Zannini, the founder of HUB Milan and BENISI project coordinator on behalf of the network of HUBs.

What’s the infrastructure for realising world-changing ideas? In our recent global gathering of HUBs we used words like trans-locally connected or multi-local enterprises. This begs us to consider the opportunity to re-consider how entrepreneurs of today might be shaping their businesses differently, and how a network of HUBs might provide the infrastructure to support them in their efforts to scale-up. Thanks to BENISI, HUB members will benefit from stronger HUB to HUB relationships and will be able to build multi-local businesses in several European cities, a more locally-rooted and socially-responsible response to the era of multi-national corporations.

Which social innovations are worth scaling in Europe today? How does an entrepreneur realise he/she is ready to take their enterprise internationally? What tools and support does that entrepreneur need? These are just some of the questions that through BENISI we aim to address. We depart this journey trusting our experience that trans-local collaboration between people who share a common passion in resolving today’s most pressing needs is a great base for building international sustainable businesses. We are looking forward to helping them thrive all over Europe.

Stay tuned…

– by Tatiana Glad, HUB Amsterdam and Alberto Masetti-Zannini, HUB Milan; co-hosts of the HUB EU Cluster


Connect to your local HUB if you have a social innovation that you want to scale up.

Download the official HUB BENISI press release here.

Matthias Reisinger IMPACT IS… Doing what makes you come alive in a way it contributes to more than just yourself. WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE BECOMING PART OF THE IMPACT HUB VIENNA TEAM I was finishing my studies and building up emersense, the NGO which gave birth to the Hub WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Prototyping the new way of doing business WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HAVE ACHIEVED AS PART OF THE IHV TEAM BY THE END OF THE YEAR? Hosting the impact eco-system in Austria and bringing it to the next level WHAT DOES YOUR PERFECT SUNDAY LOOK LIKE? Excercize + Chillaxation + Good Food & Good Movie in Good Company WHAT IS AN ABSOLUTELY RANDOM FACT ABOUT YOU THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW? When I was learning the piano as a child, I refused to learn the music pieces I was supposed to, but only wanted to play my own compositions PLACE OF BIRTH? Linz, Austria LANGUAGES YOU SPEAK? German, English, French