SESPA - Societal Entrepreneurship in Sparsely Populated Areas is an interdisciplinary project involving over 20 researchers from six different fields of study at Mid Sweden University. The project was initiated in 2010 and its main objective is to research how societal entrepreneurship can contribute to sustainable development and entrepreneurship in Sweden’s sparsely populated areas.
Societal entrepreneurs are found on all levels in both the private and public sector. Unlike the traditional entrepreneur, who strives to maximize profit, the societal entrepreneur combines an entrepreneurial mindset with the endeavour to actively contribute to the community. By investigating the social and societal effects of innovation, SESPA seeks to broaden the view on entrepreneurship. The project is particularly focused on how entrepreneurship acts as a driving force for local and regional development in sparsely populated areas.
The researchers working within SESPA actively communicate their findings and knowledge about societal entrepreneurship and social innovation on a local, regional, national and international level. Good examples are presented, new methods of research are created and practical models are developed within the project. The close partnership between researchers and society is an important part of SESPA; the project has yielded several regional research programmes providing both the private and public sector with knowledge and understanding of the phenomena societal entrepreneurship. The project is an important partaker in the creation of a social incubator and a social innovation park. SESPA has contributed to national and international research on societal entrepreneurship and social innovation including the creation of Sweden's first PhD course in societal entrepreneurship and also initiated an undergraduate course in societal entrepreneurship The results have been communicated and spread through conferences, workshops, reports, doctoral theses and through an Swedish anthology and an international anthology published by Springer; Social entrepreneurship: leveraging economic, political, and cultural dimensions (2013).
SESPA is the creator and host of an annual entrepreneurship conference. The winner of the national award Social Entrepreneur of The Year is also announced at the conference every year.
The conference was held for the fourth time in October 2013 attracting regional, national and international participants and speakers from both the academic and the nonacademic sector. Learn more about the conference and download the presentations here.