Without doubt one of the most exciting areas of innovation, social innovation, that is developing initiatives that are attempting to tackle the real societal issues, has had a very tough time in the last year or so.
The need for social innovation and where it is contributing and aspires to resolve, has not gone away but it does seem to me, some of the energy and passion seems to have drained away in this time. Perhaps, in recent weeks, there are some signs of some emerging initiatives that are beginning to be ‘rekindle’ this social innovation flame but it seems in such incremental ways. Surely what is needed, is making bold leaps at this time not token gestures? We need to mobilize with a real intensity around many of the present social ills we are facing.
Recent losses in the movement for social innovation
Firstly for those involved in the social innovation movement the sad loss of Diogo Vasconcelos, who tragically died last year took away the champion of social innovation. Equally the move of Geoff Mulgan from being the CEO of the Young Foundation into a broader CEO’s role at Nesta, where they certainly have shifted their recent focus in helping people and organizations bring great innovation ideas to life has altered where the emphasis needs to be placed for innovation in general, less so for social innovation.
This focus has been through providing investments and grants to mobilize research, explored through networks and building the skills necessary as the UK’s innovation foundation. Continue reading
The challenges are growing in their social dimension across Europe, the United States and a host of other countries, both developed and developing, that are needing new fresh responses. Social demands will inevitably increase as nations are being confronted with budgetary constraints, increased deficits and mounting debts to resolve. Social needs will become more pressing and innovation, social innovation, will increasingly explore opportunities to extract ‘more from less’. Innovation can play an increasing part in resolving social challenges that are increasingly confronting us.
Starting a new movement on social innovation in Europe
Recently I became a member of www.socialinnovationeurope.eu . I certainly feel this is going to offer something exciting and vibrant. It is a growing community of thinkers, creators and innovators with the knowledge and skills to change the way we face Europe’s most pressing issues. Contributors to the site will take a strong hand in shaping the direction of social innovation across Europe, breaking down silos and raising a unified voice. I need to find my own part in this, as there are multiple ways for contribution, which I’m still presently figuring out.
“Social innovation is about new ideas that work to address pressing unmet society needs”
The shifts taking place in Europe
The competitiveness and challenges that Europe faces in the next ten years are significant. Innovation has been placed at the heart of Europe’s 2020 strategy. It is this clear recognition that innovation is the best means of tackling issues that will affect our future living standards is not new in itself, but it is this real political recognition of its place and importance, now that is.
Innovation is also our best means of successfully tackling major societal challenges, such as climate change, energy and resource scarcity, health and aging and becoming more urgent each day to address in more systematic ways.
European funding of innovation in recent years has perhaps placed far too much emphasis on research and development to deliver the growth and jobs it requires.