Innovation can be simply described as "new ideas that work." Social innovation refers to ideas that work to answer unmet social needs. More precisely, it means elaborating new answers to new or unsatisfied social needs considering current conditions of the market and social policies. To do so, participation and cooperation between agents, who are more often users, is included and encouraged. These innovations concern products, services, as well as organizations, distributions in various domains like aging, early childhood, housing, health, fight against poverty, exclusion, and discrimination.
Due to the major challenges facing societies, social innovation has spread across the world as a way to curb current negative situations and create solutions to existing social problems.
Social innovation can be one of the levers for developing business creation, employment, social cohesion, and it can be used in responding to new social needs. It can also be a lever to change the scale of social economy policies. In the current context, public policy has a key role to play in creating and guiding an ecosystem favorable to the emergence of social innovation, through legislative, budgetary, fiscal policies.
Up Group's DNA is deeply rooted in social action. Since its humble beginnings, Up Group has promoted and fostered leading moves toward a more socially equal and respectful society. It began in 1973, with the creation of a Works Council for Up Group (at that time named Chèque Déjeuner). It was a real breakthrough at that time, as workers’ well-being wasn't a priority. Worker-management relations were totally different compared to nowadays.
Up Group participated in the launch of CoopMed, an investment fund that focuses on economic and social development in countries from the South and the East shores of Mediterranean Sea. CoopMed wants to expand sustainable job creation with the support of local organizations that are financing the social and solidarity economy. The operations led by CoopMed will benefit workers’ cooperatives and micro-entrepreneurs. They will also support initiatives aiming to protect and preserve the environment through green activities. Moreover, Up Group Foundation is helping different projects in eight different countries. It supports local initiatives fighting against all forms of exclusion and discrimination, creating jobs via social innovation, and local sustainable development of territories.
Thus, one can say that Up Group’s commitment to social innovation lies in acts and deeds, not merely words.