June 15, 2010
Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V. : Action and Research for the Local Social Economy
Dr. Günther Lorenz

Author of fiche:
Dr. Günther Lorenz
Board Member of Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V., Research and Development Co-ordinator
Date of this fiche: 15/06/2010

Identification of this Experience
Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V. (TechNet)
Wiesenstr. 29
D-13357 Berlin
Tel. +44-30-4612409


TechNet is situated in Berlin, but working in the whole of the Federal Republic of Germany and abroad.

Areas of activities

Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V. / TechNet (an association certified as working for the public benefit) is a network of individuals, initiatives and organisations working towards the common goals of research, training and education in the areas of community economic development, and local employment strategies. It runs an Economic Self-Help Training and Education Centre as well as an Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) ’Local Economy’. A key focus of the research and development activities is the creation of jobs through the establishing of social enterprises. Via its work, TechNet has built up a wide range of contacts and co-operative relationships with similar projects, agencies, public sector bodies and enterprises.

Since 1993 it has also acted as the co-ordination office for the European Network for Economic Self-Help and Local Development (EURONETZ), which TechNet played a key role in founding. TechNet pursues the following activities:

  1. Research Activities
  2. Training and Education Activities
  3. Advice and Development Activities
  4. Co-operation and Networking


1. Initial objectives

TechNet has been set up in 1989 by an academic self-help group (PAULA) to develop strategies against unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. TechNet runs an education centre for economic self-help (now with its Academy for the Local Social Economy) and an Interdisciplinary Research Group ‘Local Economy’. Its action and research is focussed on development and research with the final aim of creating jobs in socially useful fields, particularly by promoting the Local Social Economy. The IRG ’Local Economy’, which has been working out of the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) since 1988, is an interdisciplinary research group, who come from of a wide range of technical/scientific and social science disciplines. It is now working partly at the university, and in the offices of TechNet. The IRG has identified six principles of Local Economic Development:

  1. Working for the common good
  2. an integrated holistic approach
  3. Serving unmet needs
  4. Re-establishing local economic cycles
  5. Building and developing social capital
  6. Community-centred development.

The main focus of the project was initially the establishment of ’the local economy’ as an area of research with the intention of making a comparative evaluation of the origins, developmental paths and practical approaches of local economic strategies in Western Europe. Currently, our research efforts are concentrated on the roles of the private, public and, in particular, the community/voluntary sector in restructuring local economies, as well as on the function which local inter-sectoral partnerships have in this complex. Relevant transnational research projects include, among others, ’The Role of Local Partnerships in Promoting Social Cohesion’, ’Community Economic Development and Social Enterprises’, ’Key Values, Concepts and Structures of the Social Economy in Western Europe’, ‘The Contribution of Social Capital in the Social Economy to Local Economic Development’, ‘Third System and Employment’, ‘Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged People’, ‘Microeconomic Strategies for Social Enterprises in the Third System’ and ‘Local Development Agencies for Social Enterprises and Neighbourhood Economy’.

Our qualification programme in strategies for economic self-help is based, on the one side, on the research findings which have emerged from case studies in crisis regions of Europe, and on the other hand on our own experiments and conclusions in the areas of self-help by unemployed people, community work and the community economy, and project development. Against the background of diverse local experiences and knowledge, we are seeking to encourage and support the growth of the local social economy and to develop its potential.

2. Mode of operation

The central fields of competence of the IRG Local Economy lie in research, development and consultancy services for community economic activities, their operating environment and their infrastructure. This includes all relevant areas of policy: economic development, technology, community services, labour market, employment, and so on.

Until 1992, the IRG was recipient of 100% funding from the Technische Universität as an interdisciplinary research project; since then, however, the IRG has had to seek financial support from outside bodies, a large part of which has come from EU sources. It now focuses on supporting training and development of the Local Social Economy.

Selected Research Projects: _’The Role of Local Partnerships in Promoting Social Cohesion: Report on the Federal Republic of Germany’
Period: 1.4.1995 - 30.6.1996 (_ European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions)
’Community Economic Development and Social Enterprises’
Period: 01.10.1995 - 28.02.1997
(European Commission, DG V)
’Key Values, Structures and Concepts of the Social Economy in Western Europe’
Period: 01.10.1995 - 30.09.1996
(European Commission, DG XXIII)
’Work Integration through Employment and Training Companies _ [BQGs] in Berlin and its Surrounding Region’
Period: 01.11.1995 - 31.03.1997
(International Centre of Research and Information on the Public and Cooperative Economy)
‘The Contribution of Social Capital in the Social Economy for Local Development in Western Europe’
Period: 1.3.1999 – 28.2.2003
(European Commission, DG XII) ’_ The Employment Potential of Social Enterprises in six EU Member States’
Period: 15.12.1997 - 14.05.1999
(European Commission, DG V)
“The Role of Intermediary Organisations in Promoting Third System Employment at Local Level”
Period: 30.12.1999 – 30.9.2001) (_ European Commission, DG EMP) “_ The Contribution of Social Capital in the Social Economy for Local Development in Western Europe”
Period: 1.3.1999 – 28.2.2003
(European Commission, DG XII)
„Key structures and conditions of innovative working and entrepreneurship – Social Enterprises”
Period: 01.12.2000 – 31.05.2002
(Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
‘Innovation Forum ‘Social Enterprises / Neighbourhood Management’ carried out within the framework of
“Interregionale Allianzen für die Märkte von morgen” [Interregional Alliances for Future Markets] funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Period: 01.07.2001 – 31.12.2001
(Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
Equal Development Partnership BeSt 3 S ‘Business Strategies for Social Enterprises in the 3rd System“’
Period:01.07.2002 – 30.06.2005
(European Commission Community Initiative Equal)
‘Labour Supply in Care Services’,
Period: 01.12.03 – 31.05.04
(European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin)
‘Entrepreneurship for disadvantaged people’ / EDP;
Period: 1.12.2002-30.11.2005;
(European Commission Community Vocational Training Action Programme Leonardo da Vinci)
The Economic Self-Help Training and Education Centre was established by Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin e.V. in 1991. The main areas of expertise of the Training and Education Centre are to be found in their assistance, advice and qualification services, as well as in the development of curricula aimed at using local economic processes to restructure regional and community-based economic circulation. The contents of the training programme for the professional areas of community work and the community economy includes, among others, questions of the forms of participation on the part of local residents in economic development processes. In this context, training and education concentrate on the implementation of the mobile planning process ’Planning for Real’, which includes, among other elements, a ’deficit and resource’ analysis.

Selected Projects:

Consultancy and Qualification for the Neighbourhood Project ’_ Living and Working in Weberviertel (NOWA)’ -
Towards Implementing the Mobile Planning Process Planning for Real including a Deficit and Resource Analysis
Period: 15.06.1995 - 31.03.1996
(Ministry for Labour, Social Services, Health and Womens’ Affairs of the Land Brandenburg; LASA gGmbH; Stadtkontor GmbH)
Consultancy and Qualification in the Areas of Community Work and the Community Economy in a Rural Environment
Period (provisional): 22.04.1997 - 31.12.1998
(Ministry for Labour, Social Services, Health and Womens’ Affairs; European Commission)
Expertise for the project CUPITS (Curriculum for Professionals in the Third System)
April 1998
Evangelische Fachhochschule für Sozialpädagogik der Diakonenanstalt des Rauen Hauses in Hamburg / European Commission
Model project “Village centres used for activity and learning projects for the benefit of unemployed people and people threatened by unemployment to improve their competences”
Period: 01.01.2001 – 31.12.2002
(Federal Ministry of Education and Research; project coordinator: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Betriebliche Weiterbildungsforschung e.V. / QUEM)
Education research: “Shared facilities of common use as a strategy to stabilize and sustainably develop rural areas in Brandenburg – project part: Development of a participative educational concept demonstrated by specific shared facilities of common use”
Period: 01.12.2001 – 30.11.2004
(Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Project coordinator: GSF – Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit GmbH)

3. Actual orientation

The term ‚Technology’ from our understanding covers (in a wider sense) a social process where necessary instruments, knowledge and know-how are developed in order to pursue social, environmental and cultural objectives. The name Technology Network is highlighting that not academic interests but the implementation of practical action is in the foreground.

The main areas of expertise of the IRG, the Training and Education Centre and the Academy for the Local Social Economy are to be found in their assistance, advice and qualification services, as well as in the development of curricula (‘learning packages’) aimed at using local economic processes to restructure regional and communitybased economic circulation.

A further focus is the establishing of social enterprises including neighbourhood enterprises. The ultimate objective here is the creation of sustainable jobs and the provision of need-orientated goods and services. This is being done through the work of CEST (see below) and BEST (Berlin Development Agency for Social Enterprises and Neighbourhood Development).

The BEST Agency started in 2000 in order to support the foundation and development of social enterprises in Berlin. Social Enterprises work different than private enterprises. They start with the identification of local needs.

Therefore, the BEST Agency aims at 2 objectives:
- a) To mobilise stakeholders, particularly excluded people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods,
- b) To initiate, support and accompany the setting up of social enterprises, by providing knowledge and methods of

  • Social Management
  • Social Marketing
  • Social Accounting and Auditing
  • Building and Using Social Capital.

The BEST Approach includes 7 steps to set up a social enterprise:
A. Preparation
1. Mobilisation of stakeholders in disadvantaged regions / neighbourhoods
2. Initiation of a core group of founders
B. Foundation
3. Formal foundation of an enterprise
4. Determination of business and start of economic activities
5. Development of economic activity fields
C. Consolidation
6. Acquisition of orders and financial capital
7. Setting up a community enterprise.

4. Achievements

Via the coordination office of the European Network for Economic Self-Help and Local Development, Technologie-Netzwerk Berlin is interlinked with numerous non-governmental and civil society organisations in Europe and beyond. They multiply the experiences of their own country and other Member States of the EU, in order to obtain sustainable results, within a period of now more than 25 years.


1. Which type of economy has been created throughout the action?
Since 1992, TechNet and EURONETZ co-ordinate economic self-help initiatives throughout Europe. Their motto explains the intention: "Local work for local people using local resources" By way of training and research, we contribute to the development of the local social economy, comprised of social enterprises which can be characterised as such:

  • They act like private enterprises, but for to achieve social and/or community-oriented objectives of public interest;
  • They mobilise private initiatives and resources from the civil society, but as ‘social entrepreneurs’ for the common good;
  • They are economically active to produce a surplus, but to re-invest these profits in the social / community-oriented objectives;
  • They trade in the markets, but on a basis of mutual reciprocity and co-operation. So far, we accompanied more or less all types of social enterprises in Germany: These are enterprises from
  • The co-operative movement,
  • The movement of mutuality,
  • Foundations,
  • Associations,
  • Work integration companies,
  • Volunteer servies,
  • The alternative, women’s and envrionmental movements,
  • Self-help organisations,
  • Social-cultural centres,
  • Social firms,
  • Local Exchange and Trading Schemes (LETS),
  • Neighbourhood and community economic activities.

EURONETZ organizes the exchange of information and experiences by common development and research, and in this capacity co-ordinates seminars, and research projects.

On its homepage www.european-network.de you can find some of the activities undertaken in the last years.

2. How did the action encourage empowerment and responsibility?
In the progress of our work, we support particularly excluded people in setting up and running social /community enterprises. Through the work of BEST, we support mainly unemployed people or people in risk of unemployment, in order to set up a collective enterprise or support structures, so that they can obtain an income with a job in a socially useful field.
Through the work of CEST, national relay stations in Germany, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom shall secure the transfer of the curriculum and the outcome of successful results. Finally, this approach will benefit such disadvantaged people who search for and carry out good work in social economy organisations by providing jobs and promoting their participation in society. Theories, methodologies and instruments are transmitted to potential multipliers in the regions and countries to identify the conditions of transfer and to mainstream them in an intermediate process. Planning for Real and Social Accounting are specific tools for empowering the people at the base.

3. Which kind of action did produce sustainable results? Impact and obstacles
The IRG now works on the basis of project funding from EU, national and regional (sometimes local) schemes. It co-operates with scientists and practitioners from Germany and abroad, a work which is co-ordinated by the European Network for Economic Self-Help and Local Development (EURONETZ).
In 1985, the IRG focused on the comparative exploration and evaluation of local economic strategies in crisis regions, like the one of the Greater London Council and other metropolitan councils in the United Kingdom. Starting from there, the research and development work was developed further. In the last years, TechNet focused on the fields of Social solidarity-based economy, and Third Sector / System. In this context other subjects are local partnerships, mobilising planning methods, social capital, social marketing and accounting / auditing and alternative finance. Furthermore, TechNet supports the development of curricula for research studies in Social Economy, Community Economy or Third Sector. Technet itself with partners from EURONETZ produced a Learning Package for the Local Social Economy: CEST. Outputs of the projects are a handbook and an international conference on this subject in September 2009, including a website, www.cest-transfer.de

The partner organisations of the project are experts of further training for social enterprises and local development; they are already networking for a long time. By identifying the conditions of transfer and the individual adaptation of the curriculum to the individual conditions in the countries and regions of our partners we promote the mainstreaming of good practice in this innovative area. We also want to optimise the work of multipliers and by that achieve the improvement of life and work of people who were excluded from economic and social participation of society so far. At the end of the day, an intermediate learning infrastructure facilitates successful enterprise development and at the same time improves the integration of people into the economy and society at all. Through our work, we have supported many local economic initiatives in Europe which can economically sustain in crisis regions. Our main obstacle now is the missing visibility and acceptance of the Local Social Economy in Germany. Local and regional authorities including the Government only slowly appreciate the importance of an ever growing sector in the situation of a deep economic crisis.