Loading Events

« All Events

Phase 1: ESF+ ‘New Solutions’ funding to support Social Innovation

August 30 @ 17:00

Minister Joe O’Brien announces ESF+ ‘New Solutions’ funding to support Social Innovation across the country

  • Up to €2.8M available to establish a Social Innovation Hub
  • The Social Innovation Hub will act as a one-stop-shop for Social Innovation
  • Minister O’Brien: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the sector to support innovative ways of addressing societal challenges whilst potentially transforming the Social Innovation Irish ecosystem.”

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien TD, has today, Friday 28th June, launched the New Solutions Social Innovation Fund –creating better outcomes.

The overall objective of New Solutions is to enhance the social innovation ecosystem in Ireland and is co-funded through the European Social Fund + 2021-2027 (ESF+), a European initiative aimed at reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion, with an emphasis on disadvantaged groups.

Today’s launch marks the first call for applications under the New Solutions Social Innovation Fund. It provides up to €2.8m to establish a Social Innovation Hub over the lifetime of the Programme.

The Hub’s main objective will be to act as a One Stop Shop for supporting Social Innovations. It will provide a suite of measures to develop the Irish Social Innovations ecosystem including, raising awareness and understanding of Social Innovation, providing a range of bespoke training to build capacity, establishing communities of practice for networking within the sector, while maximising the impact of funding and developing impact measurement methodologies.

In launching the Call for application, Minister O’Brien said:

“Today’s launch of the New Solutions Social Innovation provides a fantastic opportunity for the sector to support innovative initiatives that can help tackle social challenges and deliver transformative results for the role of Social Innovation in Ireland.”

Minister O’Brien added:

“Social Innovation has the power to transform communities, supporting them in becoming stronger and more resilient.

The creation of a Social Innovation Hub is the first step to ensure a coherent and supportive approach to Social Innovation throughout the country. It will provide a range of supports to social innovators, social enterprises, charities, and others. The Hub will operate at national, regional and local level, supporting communities and organisations across the country.

The New Solutions Fund provides an opportunity for Social Innovation actors to join forces, bring their expertise and experience together, and create a common vision for the future of Social Innovation in Ireland, and I look forward to them maximising the potential of this fund.”

As part of their role in supporting the Department of Rural and Community Development in the implementation of the New Solutions Social Innovation Fund,

Pobal CEO, Anna Shakespeare said:

“Pobal is delighted to continue to work with the Department of Rural and Community Development on this ESF+ “New Solutions Social Innovation Fund – creating better outcomes”. It presents an exciting and timely opportunity for Government and the ESF+, as well as ourselves in Pobal, to support communities, through the use of innovative measures, to address persistent societal challenges. We look forward to supporting applicants in both phases of this important fund.”

It is intended that lessons learnt, challenges experienced and the identification of future opportunities will be captured throughout the project in order to influence the national direction, policy formation and practice of social innovation in Ireland.

Deadline to submit applications is 5pm on Friday, 30 August 2024, and interested parties are invited to apply to the call as a sole applicant, or as part of a consortium.

Call 2 of the New Solutions Social Innovation Fund will issue in Q1 2025 and will focus on providing grant funding to social innovators to pilot an idea, or scale up an existing project to further their impact.

Further information and how to apply is available here on Pobal’s website.



The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office

01-773 6843 / 086 461-8285


The New Solutions Social Innovation Fund – creating better outcomes

The overarching objective for New Solutions is to enhance the social innovation ecosystem in Ireland by, ‘fostering active inclusion, promoting equal opportunities, non-discrimination and active participation, and to improve employability, for disadvantaged groups including through the social enterprise business model.’

This objective has been broken down further as follows:

  • Objective 1: Support the development of a social innovation ecosystem through awareness-raising and maximising synergies with other key public policies in the areas of social inclusion, social enterprise and community led local development
  • Objective 2: Capacity building for Social Innovation initiatives at national, regional, local and/or community levels
  • Objective 3: Fund Social Innovation Pilot Programmes to address significant social and environmental challenges
  • Objective 4: Create an enabling environment which will allow social innovation to thrive and to support scaling up of social innovations

Turning these objectives into tangible, implementable actions to be achieved during the timeframe for the programme (2024 – 2027), two clear phases will take place:

Phase One: The aim of Phase One is to establish a social innovation hub, the ‘New Solutions Hub,’ or the ‘Hub’ to develop the social innovation ecosystem in Ireland and support innovative projects including direct supports to projects funded under Phase Two of New Solutions.

Phase Two: Complementary call for pilots and scale-up social innovation projects. The projects must fall under at least one of the following four themes: Increasing access to employment for disadvantaged groups who are distant from the labour market

  1. Increasing access to education for disadvantaged groups
  2. Personal and social development of young people most at risk of poverty and social exclusion
  3. Harnessing the potential of sport for social development and social inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

What is ESF+?

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union (EU)’s main instrument for investing in people and supporting the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. With a budget of €142.7 billion for the period 2021-2027, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.

The ESF+ brings together four funding instruments that were separate in the programming period 2014-20: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

ESF+ is a shared management programme between the European Commission and the Member States, with a co-funding rate of 95% from the EU and 5% from the Government.

ESF+ in Ireland

In Ireland, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DHERIS) is the ESF+ Managing Authority, responsible for implementation of Ireland’s ESF+ programme, entitled Employment, Inclusion, Skills and Training (EIST).

EIST targets five key areas:

  1. Employment
  2. Skills and Lifelong Learning
  3. Social Inclusion
  4. Social innovation
  5. Assistance to the Most Deprived

New Solutions falls under Priority 4: Social Innovation, of the ESF+ EIST programme 2021-2027.

This programme is complemented by:

    • The Achieve Together Social Innovation Coaching and Mentoring Programme initiative, where each organisation being supported by the Community Services Programme will receive a tailored coaching/mentoring/training programme to address individual social innovation needs, And by;
    • The Sport Ireland ESF+ programme “Sport 4 Empowerment” (S4E) that implements socially innovative programmes, using sport and physical activity, to foster social inclusion and enhance the wellbeing, education, and economic prospects of people at risk of social exclusion.

All three programmes combined make up Priority 4 of the EIST programme.

Social Innovation Definition

To ensure all beneficiaries have a shared understanding of what social innovation is, the following broad definition has been agreed for New Solutions:

Social innovation,

‘… means an activity, that is social both as to its ends and its means and in particular an activity which relates to the

    • development and implementation of new ideas concerning products, services, practices and models
    • that simultaneously meets social needs and creates new social relationships or collaborations between public, civil society or private organisations,
    • thereby benefiting society and boosting its capacity to act’.


August 30
Event Category:
Event Tags:
Translate »