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Hubs and Incubators for Social Innovation: About the discussion

Published Date: 30 September 2011

The City of Malmo is conducting a pre-study investigation funded by the European Commission into how they might establish a series of ‘Innovation forums’ in four deprived areas of the city. They see it as a method to generate new ideas and develop real solutions to some of Malmo’s social problems through inclusive processes well-rooted in the community.


It is widely accepted that incubators, hubs and learning spaces are essential for building capacity better suited to apply rigorous innovation to meet societal challenges. Effectively designed spaces can be more than shared work spaces. They can take a variety of forms – some incubate innovations by providing a ‘safe’ space for collaboration and experimentation; some connect entrepreneurs with the supports they need to grow their innovations; and others help to spread innovations by developing networks and collaborations. Throughout the world there are a number of models, run by both governments, cities, innovation and design agencies – some which focus more on the kind of space that enhances creativity and innovation, and others which focus more on the processes of innovation.


As part of the ‘Innovation forum’ preliminary study activity plan, Malmo City collaborated with SIX to host two global discussions via TelePresence which explored the various models of social innovation labs and hubs throughout the word that have a remit of finding new approaches to social problems. Through these sessions, we brought together those at the forefront of the new generation of incubators all over the world which are beginning to manage the processes of understanding priority fields; creative design and ‘ideation’; prototyping and piloting; and then turning innovations into hybrid ventures, new services and products.