What we found is that due to their entrepreneurial professionalism, social enterprises enjoy the confidence of other influential people in the region and are able to win them over for collaborations. What they do is strategically initiate bottom-up activities that would not have come into being without the contributions of the social entrepreneurs.
Above all, however, it is a key characteristic of social-entrepreneurial practices to provide other (entrepreneurial) regional actors with help for self-help in regional development and to empower them. This means that once an initiative has been started, they serve as catalysts for the subsequent bottom-up process. Typically, social enterprises provide or organize the following resources:  useful contacts and information about social networking technique,  expert knowledge in the form of educational offers, counseling services and/or coaching.
Researcher’s Notebook: Marina Novikova
Socially innovative regional development in Mühlviertel and Baixo Alentejo
The RurAction network
The RurAction research and training network offers a unique opportunity to ten early stage researchers to do research on highly relevant topics of social innovations and social entrepreneurship in rural regions. It aims at fostering social innovations and social entrepreneurship in rural development.
The early stage researchers are employed as junior researchers in relevant leading research institutions and enrolled in PhD programmes in the contributing universities of the RurAction network. They are supervised by highly acknowledged academics and benefit from transnational, high quality training on the theories and methodologies organised by RurAction.
At the same time, practical skills trainings are ensured. Social enterprises have provided the early stage researchers with great expertise in innovative rural development. In total, the project encompasses five European regions where highly experienced and award-winning social enterprises of the RurAction network are located: in Baixo Alentejo in Portugal, Ballyhoura in Ireland, the Mühlviertel in Austria, Phthiotis in Greece and Uckermark in Germany. Each of the early stage researchers was seconded to two or three regions in order to experience the work on the part of the enterprises. In the section that follows, the early stage researchers will tell you about their experiences in these regions.
ADCMoura (Moura/Portugal) / Ballyhoura Development (Kilfinane/Ireland) / Otelo eGen (Vorchdorf/Austria) / Social Impact (Potsdam/Germany) / Stevia Hellas (Lamia/Greece).
Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS, Erkner/Germany; coordinator of RurAction) / Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU, Poznan/Poland) / Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL, Leipzig /Germany) / Roskilde University (RUC, Roskilde/Denmark) / Technical University of Berlin (Berlin/Germany) / University College Cork (UCC, Cork/Ireland) / University Institute of Lisbon (ISTE-IUL, Lisbon/Portugal) / University of Leipzig (Leipzig/Germany) / University of the Aegean (UAE, Mytilini/Greece).
The early stage researchers of RurAction
Jamie Scott Baxter (IRS, Erkner/Germany, and TU Berlin/Germany) / Georgios Chatzichristos (UAE, Mytilini/Greece) / Holle Gruber (Otelo, Vöcklabruck/Austria, University of Passau) / Barraí Hennebry (AMU, Poznań/Poland) / Sunna Kovanen (IfL, Leipzig /Germany, University of Leipzig) / Marina Novikova (ISTE-IUL, Lisbon/Portugal) / Lucas Olmedo (UCC, Cork/Ireland) / Sune W. Stoustrup (IRS, Erkner/Germany, TU Berlin/Germany) / Mara van Twuijver (Ballyhoura, Kilfinane/Ireland, UCC, Cork/Ireland) / Anna Umantseva (RUC, Roskilde/Denmark).
Along the main narrative of this site you will find researchers’ notebooks – personal notes, comments and observations shared by early stage researchers. These are short excerpts from their field-notes, presented in the form of independent stories, scattered throughout the webpage.
We would like to thank all the people who helped us in the preparation and implementation of our visual documentation, also those who accompanied us during our visits to Portugal, Greece and Ireland.
The assistance and hospitality extended by Clara Lourenço (ADC Moura), Christos Stamatis (Stevia Hellas Cooperation) and Catherine Smyth (Ballyhoura Development CLG) made it possible for us to visit places crucial to the regions and to learn about the local social innovations.
However, we are most indebted to the local communities of the researched and documented regions. They are the main protagonists of this exhibition. The pictures show people involved in promoting and implementing innovations for the benefit of rural regions: farmers, social entrepreneurs, local activists and educators, coordinators and beneficiaries of social assistance. We also present ordinary inhabitants of these regions at work and in their free time. These people were asked for permission to be photographed. Their openness and willingness to cooperate is a contributing factor to this exhibition.