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Coordinator is seeking partners to build up a consortium. The Spanish Foundation is coordinating a proposal for HORIZON EUROPE CL2, Call TRANSFORMATIONS-01-09


Profile Type
Research & Development Request
POD Reference
Term of Validity
22 December 2023 - 21 December 2024
Company's Country
Type of partnership
Research and development cooperation agreement
Targeted Countries
All countries
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General information

Short Summary
Project Title: CATALYST

CATALYST addresses the importance of the third sector in the social economy, advocating for adequate digital infrastructure and labour conditions to effectively fulfil its role in economy and society. It aims to bridge the EU's inequalities by investigating the different nuances of NGOs, especially the digital divide. It offers field-tested guidelines, a management platform and protocols for employee satisfaction.
Full Description
CATALYST - Creating Advances in Thriving Social Economy:, Legal and Digital Organisational Strategies for Transformation

The alarming growth of indicators of inequality, poverty, and social exclusion in the EU has led social policy to a crossroads, where the four basic spheres of welfare production and distribution (State, market, third sector, and family) are undergoing their own adjustments while being overwhelmed to meet new attention needs. This is particularly true in the third sector, and more so in the myriad of small, grassroot NGOs all across the Union. Such organisations are particularly vulnerable to all sorts of changes (technological. social, political, labour) yet extremely valuable since they contribute to welfare from a bottom-up angle.

Third Sector organisations have been adapting their modes of organisation to the growing social demands as social rights and the Welfare State have expanded. Those bigger and professionalised, adapt with less difficulty, while smaller organisations struggle to keep up.
Some of these challenges faced by social economy organisations are:

- Digital Transformation: many small organisations face difficulties to both count with the adequate digital infrastructure for their activities and also to use and know about the already existing tools in their benefit. This is mostly due to a structural factor: many small organisations are created from vulnerable collectives that already suffer the digital divide, where social entrepreneurs are non-experts in ICT. This difficulty limits the grassroot associations when it comes to, for example, getting new members without knowledge about social media engagement, managing their own activities without digital management tools or accessing the digital administration.

- Maintaining identity while competing in equality – a result of the blurring of traditional boundaries between the private, public, and non-profit sectors, and the emerging dynamics of competition and collaboration with other sectors. Many NGOs face competitiveness in both getting skilled professionals, maintaining them in good conditions or getting access to public funding in an increasingly competitive environment.

- Social innovation: many small organisations face internal resistance to change, technical limitations, challenges in managing relationships in diverse environments, and difficulties in effectively integrating advanced technologies. Fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration, along with the profound cultural transformation required to build solidary subjects, adds complexity to the process of social innovation.

CATALYST aims, on the one hand, to conduct comprehensive research at the European and national levels regarding the situation of social economy and the third sector. The objective is to thoroughly understand the barriers for NGOs in social economy both at the European and national levels in order to provide a good practice guide and a pilot program for implementation of such recommendations.

On the other hand, CATALYST wants to build accessible digital infrastructure for NGOs, which will be designed departing from the necessities of these organisations and tested in a multiplicity of NGOs in the consortium in an iterative and co-creative process. With this platform, the intention is to address several of the mentioned challenges, including sustainability, innovation, and, above all, digital transformation. Additionally, this management model aims to expand the reach of NGOs, as well as enhance the quality and conditions under which workers in the social economy perform their tasks.

Moreover, CATALYST aims to be a techno-social innovation project that boards the barriers to social economy within NGOs from two sides. One is by boosting the digital transformation of grassroot organisations and the other is by implementing the best practices based on research in terms of employment to ensure sustainability and flourishment of the sector.
Advantages and Innovations
This project departs from comprehensive research. As a novelty, this research will be conducted both bottom-up and top-down. Universities and grassroot organisations from all levels (local, national, European) will jointly research on the challenges faced by NGOs and grassroot organisations to the development of social economy and the impact of third sector in it. This research will be conducted at a transnational level, aware of local differences but aiming at identifying common grounds.

From that knowledge, CATALYST will take action to dynamize the identified necessary transformative trends in the third sector. One main area of focus will be Digital Transformation, co-creating with grassroot organisations a volunteering management platform built by and for the third sector that serves as a universal digital infrastructure, and a tool for growth and competitiveness and an improvement of the working conditions of employees within such organisations, simplifying processes, expanding their reach, and facilitating data management and compliance with regulation.

On the other hand, CATALYST does not just stick to technology, but will also use its knowledge to create and test on-the-field best practices and recommendations to enhance the quality of employment in the social economy organisations. This will consist in a compilation of guidelines, action points and recommendations based on the consortium’s research effort to implement in policymaking and grassroot organisations internal decision making.

This techno-social approach ensures that innovations align with the values and needs of the communities served by social economy organisations. The project counts with an heterogeneous consortium. First, we count on researchers on social economy from a rich and diverse background and perspective. Secondly, the participation of several NGOs ensures a real approach to the barriers of the third sector in each context and a impactful implementation of the results.
Stage of Development
Concept stage
Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 4: Quality EducationGoal 5: Gender EqualityGoal 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGoal 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGoal 17: Partnerships to achieve the GoalGoal 3: Good Health and Well-beingGoal 10: Reduced InequalityGoal 1: No Poverty

Partner Sought

Expected Role of a Partner
NGOs and Third Sector organisations: We are looking for NGOs operating at European, local and national level to collaborate in the testing of the management platform and laboral good practices in the third sector, to collaborate in theoretical research and to participate in the adoption of the Good Practice Guide.

Universities and Research Institutes: with a focus on the study of the social economy, the third sector. Legal knowledge is required for the development of policy recommendations.

Partner specialising in the WP on Ethics and Data Management.

Partner specialised in Dissemination and Communication of results.

Technological partner: technological partner for the implementation of improvements of the platform and to reach a higher level of TLR will be valued.
Type and Size of Partner
R&D InstitutionOtherUniversityBig companySME 11-49SME 50 - 249
Type of partnership
Research and development cooperation agreement

Call details

Framework program
Horizon Europe
Call title and identifier
The role of social economy in addressing social exclusion, providing quality jobs and greater sustainability
Submission and evaluation scheme
Deadline date: 07 February 2024
Anticipated project budget
Coordinator required
Deadline for EoI
Deadline of the call
Project duration in weeks
Web link to the call…
Project title and acronym
CATALYST - Creating Advances in Thriving Social Economy:, Legal and Digital Organisational Strategies for Transformation


Market keywords
02007028 - Other software related
Targeted countries
All countries