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Demystifying social innovation in international development - the beginnings

Published Date: 10 March 2016

SIX and Bond are collaborating on a piece of research to demystify social innovation for organisations working in international development.

As development challenges become more complex, there is an urgent need for innovation within international development. Sometimes, there is an assumption from donors that INGOs can’t innovate, however we believe differently. Through this work, we will be highlighting some of the rich and groundbreaking examples of innovation within the sector, understanding the strategies and tools for innovation that are already being used, and develop a better shared understanding of what social innovation is and how INGOs can be more innovative in their practice.

As part of this research, we hosted a workshop on the 17th of February with 15 individuals directly responsible for innovation within leading INGOs in the UK to better understand what social innovation means to them and their organisations. We tested our assumptions and explored different frameworks for social innovation - looking at type, stage and scale of innovation, and understanding whether and how these typologies can be useful in deciding where INGOs should focus their innovation efforts. We gave participants the opportunity to learn from each other about the strategies that enable and block social innovation in their organisation, and invited representatives from DFID and Comic Relief to share their perspectives on enabling and blocking social innovation within the sector from the perspectives of donors. The workshop also gave the participants the opportunity to network with each other, and connect the dots across the sector sharing commonalities between organisations.

Read this short note on the highlights of the key insights from our discussions.