How does social innovation interact with other forms of (transformative) change, and how are actors empowered – or disempowered – in that interaction? How do you increase the impact and potential of transformative social innovation, to empower people and facilitate change for sustainable development in society?


In the TRANSIT (TRANsformative Social Innovation Theory) project twelve research institutes, coordinated by DRIFT, aim to answer this question by studying how networks of social entrepreneurs and networks of social innovation projects contribute to transformative societal change. Examples of case-studies include Living Knowledge science shops, time banks, Makerspaces and FabLabs, Transition Towns, eco-villages and alternative energy cooperatives. TRANSIT aims to unravel how these phenomena are operating through more than 20 transnational networks across Europe and Latin America.


Based on the outcomes of this project, the TRANSIT team will develop a theory of transformative social innovation with a focus on empowerment and change in society, useful not only to academics, but also for policy makers, social entrepreneurs, and other practitioners. The team aspires to create an iterative interplay between interdisciplinary theory formation, empirical research (through in-depth fieldwork and comparative meta-analysis), and a transdisciplinary translation to practical insights and capacity building tools. Read more on the project, the diverse case studies and the publications on the TRANSIT website.


Duration of the project / starting and ending date:

The TRANSIT project commenced on the 1st of January 2014 and run for 4 years until the end of 2017.


Client(s)/ Commissioning party:

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 613169.



The project is coordinated by DRIFT (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands), and involves twelve separate research institutes from across Europe and Latin-America.



Flor Avelino, Julia Wittmayer