The European FairShares Labs for Social and Blue Innovation (FairShares Labs) project seeks to develop novel solutions to economic and environmental challenges, and to assist the reform of welfare systems and job markets. Traditional welfare and social services have not
yet adjusted to the global rise of cooperative social entrepreneurship that has evolved as a response to the neo-liberalism of the 1990s and austerity policies of the last decade.
Moreover, socio-structural changes brought about by the widespread use of the internet make it imperative to develop new forms of democratic social enterprise that promote wider participation and sustainable development. In recent years, a movement of new, innovative, social and sustainability-oriented entrepreneurship has developed a social enterprise movement. Innovative ideas are developed to solve social, ecological and/or economic challenges. In this movement, cooperative and mutual enterprises join non-profits and social businesses in building a broad social solidarity economy (SSE).
The main difference to the existing welfare and social economy models is the aspiration to rethink the old, to implement innovative approaches in an efficient and a sustainable way. Those mainly non-institutional based but person-centred approaches, with the participation of the target groups, receive more and more attention of a wider European audience.
The concept of “FairSharesLabs” combines new approaches of social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social integration with innovative adult learning concepts and tools. In the “laboratories” the entrepreneurial innovations, products and services are developed
in two ways; while, in the real life it is done with users and/or region citizens and virtually through FairSharesLabs Platform where people all over Europe can share ideas, project or start social enterprises themselves. In the Living Lab, the citizens of Europe, universities, companies, public administration and civil society can be innovators themselves or be involved in development of new products and services as experts in their own mission.
A new FairShares learning/training approach means firstly a fair and equal opportunity for all the people in a community. FairShares provides participants an opportunity to benefit, participate and to create social innovation and social enterprises.