Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship

In the “Digital Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship” research project, we investigate entrepreneurial organisations that primarily focus on society – often called social enterprises. We look at the role of digital technologies in solving social and environmental challenges and in creating societal value. We also examine how organisations with societal aims can succeed in shaping a digital, inclusive and sustainable transformation.

We address these topics within three main research areas: 

1) The impact of digital transformation: Digital transformation is often seen as a potential tool for solving societal challenges. However, it can also give rise to unintended consequences and new or changed social problems. For organisations dealing with social and ecological challenges, it is enormously important to understand the transformation process itself. We investigate the role of organisations as key actors in a digital, inclusive and sustainable transformation. For instance, we are engaged in a project to establish a Center for Digital Urban Health & Aging (DUHA). Here, we examine how, in the future, people can remain in their existing social environment while receiving support from technical systems. In particular, we look at the consequences of the transformation process for social value creation, the mobilization of resources, and forms of organising.

2) The role of digital social innovations in an entrepreneurial context: By looking at and analysing social enterprises, we want to find out what characterizes digital-social entrepreneurship. With regard to the organisational structure and fields of activity within the companies, we will analyse the role of the digital as well as the potential of digital-social innovations. In this context we pay special attention to the areas of health, aging and digital cities: We investigate emerging solutions in which digital systems are designed to adapt to the realities of contemporary life.

3) Analysis of digital and social innovation in contexts of crisis: It is evident that, in the course of global or regional crises, we are witnessing the emergence of initiatives and projects that aim to use digital and innovative solutions to deal with these situations. For this purpose, we are looking at existing, established organisations and analysing how they are reacting to the crisis and adapting their fields of activity. Likewise, we are examining new initiatives that often develop novel solutions from within civil society.

In addition to developing scientific findings at the interface of social innovation, organisation and digital transformation, our research program aims to generate practically applicable knowledge for organisations with social and environmental goals so that they can actively shape the digital transformation and make technologies useful in addressing social challenges.


Ali Aslan Gümüsay, Dr.

Head of Research Group: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society