The Atlantic Area — in fact Europe and the world — is in a state of rapid change. New needs emerge every day in different territories. These needs require new solutions, new ways of thinking and doing. Social innovation has entered strategy, policy and action as a tool to solve major social needs and stimulate welfare while contributing to the creation of economic value. In general, social innovation can be understood as a complex process that seeks to solve social problems and create a positive impact, through the generation and implementation of new ideas, products or processes, that meet social needs and societal challenges.

A social innovation process generally involves several steps: the identification of new or unmet social needs, the development of new solutions in response to these needs at a niche level, the evaluation of the effectiveness of implemented solutions, and the scaling up and mainstreaming of tested effective social innovations.

The aim of the Atlantic Social Innovation Observatory is to act as an action-think tank to assess the social impact in the Atlantic Area, by gathering, through the multi-stakeholder collaboration, relevant research, data, news and skills on social innovation. The observatory, developed and implemented by the Centre for Social Studies University of Coimbra (Portugal) in the context of the Atlantic Social Lab (ASL) project, intends to provide multilevel information about the European Union and the Atlantic Area member-states and regions, functioning as a tool for networking and incentivizing co-produced and co-shared knowledge.