When it comes to innovation, we might think about new technologies, corporate profit, marketing strategy and sometimes creativity. But how many times do we think about innovation as a tool for social change?
The essential purpose of a social innovation is to generate ideas and solutions that create social value, developing engaging strategies and new business models to benefit a community. It’s a concept applied from companies engaged with social responsibility, to social enterprises, to initiatives of single individuals. It’s a concept that leads social into the world of creativity, design thinking and community to generate a change.
Nowadays there are lots of social initiatives that apply innovative business models and creative thinking methodologies to develop social projects. The following are just a very few examples of organizations that have approached social innovation, each on this own way.
The first one is about how a private company can support social projects while supporting innovation. Vodafone Foundation Italia, with the technical collaboration of PoliHub, has conclude last 1st of March, the Think for Social contest, aimed to identify and support innovative projects that exploit new technologies to better respond to current and emerging social needs. A total of 660 thousand euro were granted to finance the three winning projects: Click For All (computer kit for disabled), D-Heart (electrocardiogram on your smartphone) and Student on stage (platform to facilitate the integration of young people in companies).
Each one of them respond to a clear social purpose through technology, and demonstrate that social innovation is becoming the new corporate social responsibility. Progress in social innovation is not limited to the activities of social enterprises, NGOs, and charities, but can also be highly relevant to create business opportunities.
My second case study is Indiegogo, the crowdfunding platform whose mission statement says that they empower everyone to change the world, one idea at a time. By helping artists, entrepreneurs and dreamers of every kind bring their visions to life, they create connection and community for both funders and makers.
Indiegogo believe that most customers feel good about supporting companies that do good, which means that social entrepreneurs are creating sustainable business models that operate differently than traditional nonprofits. The key is to value the three Ps: people, planet and profit.
My last example is an initiative, Europe Tomorrow, a community started by three social entrepreneurs convinced that focusing on social and environmental innovations could be the best way to create a sustainable society.
They have proposed a three-year strategy, where the first year is devoted to identify the best innovations and understand their “framework” classified in different categories such as: agriculture, climate, consumption, democracy, education, employment, energy, finance, habitat, health, industry and mobility. In a second step, they will mobilize experts in each topic in order to imagine their scaling and develop future scenarios. The very last step is to co-create with companies, public institutions and citizens some solutions to meet the challenges of our time.
Europe Tomorrow illustrates how an idea can become a strong social initiative, is all about transmitting a sense of community and motivating people to join.
Social innovation is more spread than what some of us can imagine. Even more, is probably closer than what we think.
There is no need to intend that you will change the world; engagement, passion and creativity are good enough to arise positive social impact.
Which other examples of social innovation do you know around you?
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