Designing Social Innovation Labs: ESADE, Spain


Based in Barcelona, Spain, ESADE is one of the world’s top business schools. ESADE’s Institute of Social Innovation want to set up a lab for social innovation. Over the past decade, there has been a surge in the number of social innovation labs globally. Some of them are connected to the public sector, others are in academic institutions, NGOs and corporations. Some are physical, some are virtual, some organisations use the language of labs, but do different things. There has been many events, publications, and handbooks, but not all of this information is in one place. Hence, the difficulty to know who to talk to and what to read. 


With the range of lab models in place, ESADE wanted to identify which would best fit their purpose. They want to be seen as a global leader in social innovation as well as in business education, but have  limited time and resources in order to create this new initiative. How could ESADE quickly understand what had been done before, successes and challenges, to identify how to add value to the existing world of social innovation labs? 


ESADE hired SIX to gain an better understanding of the historical context underlying the concept of social innovation and get access key lab expertise to pin-point exactly where they could add value. SIX also co-designed a public workshop attracting global experts from the SIX network who brought different angles to existing labs discussions, opening up the field further. SIX also advised ESADE on workshop outputs and post-workshop engagement

Scale & Size:

This is an on-going collaboration between SIX and ESADE SI team which started by a workshop attended by 30 people in Spain.


Here you will find the round table of Social Innovation Labs: Why a lab?

Here you will find a podcast of Geoff Mulgan, CEO of Nesta, speaking at the conference on ‘A projection towards new trends in research and social development’.

To read the ESADE output report on social innovation labs, please click here.

Follow these links for interviews from the event: 

Click here for a full page of resources.