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SocioLab is the first major project in Slovenia aimed at establishing a comprehensive ecosystem for enhancing the potential of individuals, initiatives and communities. The project promotes, supports and expands the operation of social enterprises and cooperatives in the Podravje region.
Social economy combines business with innovative solutions for solving social problems. In addition, the operation of social enterprises and cooperatives also ensures greater social inclusion of vulnerable groups, contributes to poverty reduction and enhances the quality of life. Social economy puts people and the environment before capital and profits.

Aims and Objectives

The “Actively Connected for new Jobs and an Inclusive Society – SocioLab” operation aims to create a comprehensive ecosystem to strengthen the potential of individuals, initiatives and communities. The project aims to achieve the expansion of the social economy sector (social enterprises and cooperatives) by creating and maintaining quality jobs in the social economy sector and the expansion of the offer of accessible (socially) innovative products that will ensure: greater social inclusion of vulnerable groups, reduction of poverty and an improvement of the quality of life in Podravje

Operation – Projekt SocioLab was directly endorsed in the Development Agreement of the Podravje Region in the 2014-2020 period with the objective of investing in growth and new jobs. The project, as well as the project partnership, were previously confirmed by the Podravje Regional Development Council, and all project partners are members of the Podravje Regional Development Network.

Role of Zavod PIP: project partner for advocacy campaigns (proposing legislative reforms, improving municipal regulations, preparing open calls for project proposals, etc.)

Key project activities

The operation is designed to provide a relevant and comprehensive socio-entrepreneurial ecosystem with programs that:

  • provide activation of potentials,
  • motivate the population and target groups, and raise awareness of the importance of employing vulnerable groups in the social economy sector,
  • build the competences of stakeholders and the professional public with the aim of supporting and developing the SE sector in the region,
  • identify opportunities, generate social innovation, social entrepreneurial ideas and ventures,
  • build (social) entrepreneurial communities and competences for launching growth and employment in the sector.

Key activities are divided into three sections: empowering communities to develop social economy and social innovation; activating and motivating the population into generating socially innovative, socially entrepreneurial and cooperative ideas and ventures; a support program for target groups, social enterprises, start-ups and cooperatives.

The project will give the following results / effects in the period 2018-2021

  • An established ecosystem (regional network laboratory) for social economy in the Podravje region.
  • 5 regional information points established.
  • A diagnosis of the current condition and development plans prepared.
  • Conducting trainings and mentoring / coaching for at least 30 organizations in the social economy sector.
  • At least 200 people are involved in training programs.
  • Implementing support in creating or maintaining at least 40 jobs in social enterprises and cooperatives.
  • Developing at least 1 program for training and mentoring / coaching  social-entrepreneurial and socially innovative enterprises.
  • Implementing support for the development of at least 30 socially innovative products.
  • Implementating 4 award competitions for the most socially innovative company in the Podravje region and 2 prize competitions for the most ethical investor.
  • Implementing a promotional campaign and 4 presentation fairs where companies in the social economy sector will be presented


Target Groups

  • Social entrepreneurship stakeholders: (potential) entrepreneurs; social entrepreneurs; cooperatives; persons starting social enterprises and cooperatives or working in them and initiatives (social entrepreneurial initiatives, social enterprises, cooperative initiatives, cooperatives) at all stages of development.
  • People employed in the support environment for social economy – professional and technical staff and providers of support environment services and programs for (social) entrepreneurship, cooperatives and social innovation.
  • Local stakeholders, people representing self-governing local communities, public institutions and development organizations in local environments and the general public. The operation will also indirectly address other target groups: the unemployed and jobseekers, students, young people, the elderly and members of vulnerable social groups (people at risk of social exclusion, the elderly from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, groups at higher risk of poverty).

You can find out more about similar projects at:

Project duration April 2018 – December 2021.
The value of the project is 1,599,869.80 EUR.

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Funded by

The project is co-funded by the EU Social Fund, and the ministry of Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Slovenia.

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