Proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem: boosting the digital transition of social economy enterprises and SMEs


Programme Category

EU Competitive Programmes

Programme Name

Single Market Programme (SMP) (2021-2027)

Programme Description

The Single Market Programme (SMP) covers the single market, competitiveness of enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises, the area of plants, animals, food and feed, and European statistics. Specifically, the programme brings together aspects in order to streamline, exploit synergies and provide a better flexible, transparent, simplified and agile framework to finance activities aiming at a well-functioning sustainable internal market.

Programme Details

Identifier Code



Proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem: boosting the digital transition of social economy enterprises and SMEs


The call will support transnational partnerships to boost the digital capacity of actors in the proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem. The aim will be to enable social economy entities to turn digital challenges into opportunities, ensuring a digital transition that is fair and inclusive.

Detailed Call Description

The call also wants to strengthen the capacity of social economy ‘enabling organisations’ in supporting members, clients and stakeholders in their digital transition. Digitalisation can offer significant benefits, but many social economy entities still face barriers regarding the digitalisation of their production processes, services, operations impact models. Such barriers are mainly related to digital skills, know-how, access to technology, data management capacity and an enabling environment for digital business models rooted in the social economy.

This call also offers the opportunity to promote Digital Social Innovation (DSI) as way to accelerate social, ecological and collective impact of actors in the social economy.

Applications need to address at least one of the seven action areas of the digital chapter in the transition pathway:

1. New business models – the platform economy

2. Data Maturity and data driven business models

3. Public and private tech partnerships and support

4. Data sharing, Data management & Code of Conduct

5. Supporting Digital Social Innovation & Tech for Good entrepreneurship

6. Access to technology

7. Boosting digital skills by – and in the social economy

The goals of the action should be achieved via mapping, training, coaching, capacity building, peer learning, awareness raising events and other activities in line with the primary objectives of the call.

As a crucial element, linked to the primary objectives of this call for proposal applicants have to (i) identify and map the main digital needs and opportunities of the identified target group (related to identified challenges, opportunities and innovation potentials) and (ii) directly support SMEs in the social economy as well as their enabling organisations, by setting up capacity building activities addressing those needs. To address the secondary objectives of this call for proposals, applicants can propose additional activities to support the use and uptake of digital social innovation.

Local capacity building activities must be at the centre of the proposal. Consequently, the majority of activities and resources of the proposal must focus on capacity building for (i) SMEs in the social economy and their (ii) enabling organisations.

Transnational activities within the consortia are to be organised in support of these local actions and activities and must promote learning effects between the partners of the consortia (e.g. peer learning, train the trainer). Applicants are therefore motivated to develop consortia composed of organisations with different degrees of maturity and consequently to facilitate knowledge transfer from front-runners to organisations that are less advanced. Transnational activities can thus be developed to support the mapping exercises, jointly develop the capacity building packages or design joint Digital Social Innovation (DSI) trajectories.

The development of capacity building offer must be organised at consortium level (e.g. shared development and testing, joint training of trainers) but needs to be adapted to the local need of SMEs in the social economy and their enabling organisations(e.g. type of social economy organisations, sectoral, type of partnership, specific local needs etc.)

Call Total Budget

€8 000 000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.

Financing percentage by EU or other bodies / Level of Subsidy or Loan

The costs will be reimbursed at the funding rates fixed in the Grant Agreement (100% for the costs for providing financial support to third parties and 90% for all other costs categories).

Project budgets (maximum grant amount) are expected to range between €900 000 and €1 300 000 per project.

Thematic Categories

  • Economy-Finances
  • Information Technology
  • Small-Medium Enterprises and Competitiveness
  • Social Affairs & Human Rights

Eligibility for Participation

  • Chambers
  • Financial Institutions
  • Investment Funds
  • Large Enterprises
  • Local Authorities
  • NGOs
  • Non Profit Organisations
  • Other Beneficiaries
  • Private Bodies
  • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
  • State-owned Enterprises

Eligibility For Participation Notes

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:

  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs)
    • non-EU countries:
      • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the Single Market Programme or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature (list of participating countries);
      • Ukraine (territories controlled by the Government of Ukraine at submission deadline)
      • be social economy ‘enabling organisation (intermediary); the organisation can be operational at national, regional or local level or
      • be support organisations active at EU level representing social economy entities (such as sectorial member federations and associations or networks).

The following types of entities are encouraged to participate as applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) in the consortia:

  • public authorities or organisations acting on behalf of a public authority, responsible for or active in the fields of social economy, economic affairs, industry, business support, incubation, EU funding opportunities, sustainable finance, impact investing or related fields;
  • non-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations and private organisations established at European, national, regional and local level as social economy associations, federations, financial institutions, impact investors, business incubators & accelerators, business support centres, innovation hubs, chambers of commerce, consultancy providing sustainability and financing advisory services;
  • IT and tech service and support providers;
  • Expertise, knowledge centres, think tanks and research bodies in the area of digital training, digital social innovation, digital inclusive service provision, tech for good, social tech, digital commons, social economy based platforms, AI for good, assistive technologies, etc.
  • private and profit-making entities also including social economy SMEs, mainstream SMEs and larger undertakings, and financial institutions;
  • other relevant organisation.

Consortium composition – Proposals must be submitted by a consortium of applicants which complies with the following conditions:

  • minimum 6 independent entities from 3 different eligible countries;
  • minimum 1 social economy enabling organisation’ (intermediary) per participating country involved in the consortium; the organisation can be operational at national, regional or local level;
  • a minimum 1 and a maximum of 2 support organisations active at EU level representing social economy entities (such as sectorial member federations and associations or networks)

Call Opening Date


Call Closing Date


National Contact Point(s)

Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry
Industry and Technology Service
1421, Nicosia, Cyprus

Contact Person:
Spyros Triantaphyllidis
Telephone: 22867333

EU Contact Point

For help related to this call, please contact: