EU2020: “Innovation Union”

How co-operatives help:

The innovation capacity of co-operatives is encouraged both by the democratic and participative co- operative model of governance, and the fact that they are locally rooted. The strong link between co- operatives (members) and society (clients) provides the opportunity to get first-hand information on people’s expectations and needs. Close contact boosts the development of research and the creation of innovative activities and products. This dynamic system of knowledge transmission leads to a strong commitment from co-operatives to increased creativity and social, environmental, cultural, managerial and technological innovation.

  • Co-operatives are key actors in innovation, whether in the field of new products or in new models of development (e.g., business transfer to employees);
  • Co-operatives focus on the long-term, so they anticipate social and economic change;
  • Co-operatives’ specific governance model – the relation between the co-operatives, its members and employees – contribute to social innovation. The movement also collaborates with research- centres and academia.

How European institutions can help us:

  • Research programmes could be easier to access and more suited to co-operatives. Business transfer to employees could be studied and encouraged through specific policies and financial programmes.
  • Facilitate the participation of co-operatives in EU programmes that encourage the setting up of transnational and national specialist networks and the development of best practices in innovative sectors.
  • The co-operative business model could be recognized as the first choice when speaking about responsible business model and corporate social responsibility (CSR) issue.