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Support organisations and funding opportunities

Below you can find links to a range of support organisations and funding opportunities in each of the Nordic countries and across Europe. 


  • Realdania is a private fund which supports philanthropic initiatives and social innovations.
  • The Social Capital Fund makes strategic investments in companies that create jobs for vulnerable people in Denmark, for example, people who face social disadvantage, health issues or have physical and mental disabilities.
  • Lauritzen Fonden is a commercial foundation that conducts social humanitarian activities. The fund seeks to create societal change by supporting innovative projects and projects with the potential for a ripple effect. The foundation favours projects aimed at promoting well-being for the most vulnerable members of society.
  • DGI is the second largest sports organisation in Denmark with more than 1.5 million members. For 150 years, the organisation has worked together with other associations to get Danes of all ages more active, out into the countryside or onto the court. A list of funding, many of which could be used to support social innovation in some way, can be found on their website.
  • Idéer for livet Fonden is run by Skandia Bank and is a non-profit and non-commercial fund providing support to individuals, associations, organisations and institutions working towards a secure and more friendly society for children and young people in Denmark through voluntary efforts. The foundation’s website also contains a multitude of links where it is possible to look for other grants related to children and young people.
  • Socialøkonomi Nordjylland provides advice and guidance for social entrepreneurs in the region, facilitates a network for knowledge exchange about social innovation, and hosts meetings where new knowledge about social innovation and entrepreneurship is presented.
  • Copenhagen Municipality has a list of private funds in Denmark, some of which could be used to support social innovations.


  • The Finnish Association of Local and Regional Authorities provide municipalities and regional authorities with research, development and expert services. They work with social innovation-related projects in cooperation with their member authorities.
  • The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra is active in the field of social innovation and does research and, at times, provides funding for social innovations.
  • The Finnish Association of Social Enterprises (Arvoliitto) is a lobby organisation for social entrepreneurs. It provides networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs and business support for social enterprises.
  • The Finnish Social Enterprise Mark is a certificate administrated by the Association for Finnish Work. The certificate can be given to social enterprises that use most of their profit to advance their social goals and who want to use the mark to communicate their status as a social enterprise.
  • The Village Action Association of Finland promotes and develops locally-initiated rural development and is a national umbrella organisation for regional rural development actors. Its membership includes the Leader Action Groups, which have a key role in promoting social innovation in rural areas.


  • Innovation Center Iceland belongs to the Ministry of Industry and Innovation and encourages innovation the advancement of new ideas in Icelandic economy by providing active participation and support to entrepreneurs and businesses. 
  • Rannis manages international cooperation programmes and national funds in the field of research and innovation. Rannis coordinates Icelandic participation in European programmes, such as Horizon 2020, the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, promotes the programme in Iceland and manages the National Contact Points.
  • The Icelandic Regional Development Institute is an independent institution owned by the Icelandic State. It monitors and researches regional development in the country to contribute to regional development through the implementation of government policy via the introduction of regional strategies. Operations aim at strengthening settlements in rural areas through the support of viable, long-term projects with diverse economic bases. The Institute provides credit and other forms of financial support to support local development improving living conditions, particularly in regions threatened by depopulation.
  • Austurbrú is a private foundation that provides a coordinated and interdisciplinary service related to the economy, education and culture in East-Iceland. The institution represents the development of the economy, society, administration, college and continuous education, research, knowledge and culture in East-Iceland. One of the foundation’s focus areas is innovation, development and the nurturing of regional communities and business.


  • Innovation Norway is a government agency charged with promoting innovation. It provides risk loans targeted towards projects in rural areas that have trouble obtaining financing through the private sector because of the perceived lack of security. Evaluation of the scheme demonstrated that the risk loans are profitable and that the initiatives they have financed are valuable to the regions.
  • The Merkur programme is financed by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation and aims to ensure that residents in rural areas have access to a nearby grocery store with good quality produce. The programme works with smaller grocery stores in rural areas to find opportunities for them to take on additional services (e.g. post office facilities), both to increase their profitability and provide members of the community with better services.
  • The Alliance for Innovation (Innovasjonsalliansen) was established by the Norwegian
  • Association of Local and Regional Authorities (Kommunesektorens organisasjon) in 2010. It aims to promote SI and deliver solutions to different societal challenges relating to welfare. Members of the alliance are municipalities, counties, volunteer organisations and state actors.
  • SoCentral is a membership based organisation that acts as a social innovation incubator. It facilitates cross-sectorial cooperation between private and public sector, the voluntary sector and social entrepreneurs.
  • Ferd is an investment Company that has provided funding to social enterprises since 2009. It has been among the forerunners in the social entrepreneurship field in Norway. The company provides seed funding to social enterprises, as well as offers business development support, advice and competence development, network building and incubation of SEs.


  • Tillväxtverket is the coordinating authority for the regional development policy in Sweden. Tillväxtverket has been running a programme on social innovation and social entrepreneurship since 2011. In 2013 the organisation’s scope was widened and a number of the projects funded are relevant to social innovation in a rural context.
  • Vinnova is the Swedish innovation agency - Launched a call for proposals on social innovation in 2015. Vinnova also runs ‘Challenge-driven innovation’, a programme for social innovation in a broad sense. Some of the projects funded are relevant to social innovation in a rural context, for example, projects concerning collaborative service solutions for sparsely populated areas and telemedicine.
  • The Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) is responsible for the Swedish Rural Development Programme. The programme comprises various forms of support intended to encourage increased competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and improved quality of life in rural areas. There are numerous support programmes targeting innovation in a rural context.
  • Mikrofonden Väst is a fund for social enterprises, associations, local development groups and cooperatives in Västra Götaland.
  • Coompanion provides support to co-operative companies and social enterprises that focus on employment creation. It has 25 regional offices across the country making it an important actor in many rural areas.
  • FAMNA is the Swedish association for social enterprises in the non-profit health and social services sector. FAMNA has 50 member enterprises and works to support enterprises and stakeholder policy work.
  • SKOOPI association provides networking and training opportunities for work-integration social enterprises.

European funds

  • The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.
  • European Social Fund (ESF) invests in people, with a focus on improving employment and education opportunities across the European Union. It also aims to improve the situation of people at risk of poverty.