severe was conceptualised in direct response to the COVID-19 crisis but it had also evolved from the combined experience of partners in an emerging field of social innovation and social enterprise

the project started in 1st september 2020, and officially concluded in 31st august 2023

The severe project developed a transnational programme for nurturing entrepreneurial mind-sets and skills in order to encourage active citizenship and social entrepreneurship. 

At the same time, it sought to reflect a completely new approach to working life born out of the COVID-19 crisis – as well as the Climate Emergency – and increasing demands for more sustainable forms of international collaboration, as well as a transformation in the way societies tackle these challenges. It sought to reflect the importance of civic society and the social innovation ecosystem, and the role that universities can play in nurturing social entrepreneurs, supporting social enterprises, and creating new opportunities for collaboration. 

Increasingly policymakers and educators have recognised the potential of social innovation as a way of tackling societal challenges through social enterprise and other disruptive approaches. 

Because of its emphasis on grassroots movements, collaboration, as well as the harnessing of digital technologies, in a post COVID-19 world, social innovation and the role of social enterprises and other values-led entities is more important than ever. It is also crucial that our students, who face an increasingly challenging world, are equipped with the awareness and skills to tackle these questions head-on. 

The project was coordinated by Glasgow Caledonian University which has several years’ experience coordinating projects under the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships as well as CBHE and Knowledge Alliances Programmes, specialising in the field of Social Innovation.

The project partners all have a range of specialist experience in areas relating to the field: the University of Aveiro, specialising in design thinking and social innovation; Dublin City University specialising in student entrepreneurship and ideation; Servizi Didattici e Scientifici per l Universita Di Firenze, specialising in social enterprise support and the related ecosystem; Universidad Pompeu Fabra, specialising in service learning and microcredit; Montpelier Business School, specialising in responsible finance and social innovation. 


Covid-19 has had an immense impact but most of all it has affected the vulnerable in our society. At the same time, social enterprises and other values-led companies and social innovators find themselves in danger of ceasing to exist. However, it is also true to say that society as a whole, governments and the general population, have become more aware that ever of the importance of solidarity and communities have shown the potential of grassroots initiatives. This is true at a regional level but the reach of the virus has meant that these issues are prevalent across the world. 

In this sense we believe that the severe project has impacted, in different ways, how students were prepared for this new reality in institutions across the world.

We offered a training programme handbook, a virtual incubation, and  micro-internships platform that helped prepare the students. In order to further promote this methodology, we also developed an E-book for Social Innovation Projects. 

We envisage a future where students will be more aware and better equipped to respond to long-term and critical challenges facing our society.