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Innovation Forums and Incubating Social Innovation: What Happened?

Published Date: 30 September 2011

Hubs and Incubators for Social Innovation

The first of the TelePresence discussions was on Hubs and Incubators for Social Innovation. On the 30th September participants from London, Copenhagen, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Washington, Espoo, Toronto, and Oslo came together to compare and contrast a variety of structures which support the development of new ideas to tackle societal challenges. All over the world, there are now dozens of centres, hubs, accelerators, labs and incubators  - all designed to encourage, support, and promote, social innovation in various different ways.  Often these organisations focus on the quick development, testing and implementing of new solutions.  Some of these structures are embedded within the public sector; others are embedded in local communities. Some of these centres are physical spaces, others are virtual. Many reach out and work with multiple partners – from business, to government to NGOs. So how can we decide which is the right model for which city? Which kind of space and structure can best support the development and incubation of ideas and lead to real practical solutions?

Through this global discussion, SIX brought together those who have created environments to support and grow social innovation to discuss these issues and share how they engage multiple actors and work in a meaningful way with local communities. For more information have a look at the the discussion notes from this session.

How to create environments for Social Innovation to flourish?

For the second session, on the 4th October, participants from London, Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Copenhagen, Lagos, Seoul and Zagreb came together to explore how to create environments for Social Innovations to flourish.

Active co-creation is key to effective social innovation.  It is widely accepted that the better the engagement between service users and service designers, the better the new solutions will be.  Finding effective ways to solve social problems is no longer a job for governments alone, and hubs or incubators embedded in the community can be a great tool to facilitate such communication.  

What many of these spaces have in common is that they all proactively engage different parts of society in order to quickly find, test, and implement new solutions to social problems; they strive to work collaboratively with multiple partners, with a particular focus on community level engagement.  But which models and processes work best? How can social innovation hubs and incubators improve information flows and partnership working between citizens, NGOs, businesses and the municipality? Who should be involved and what is the best way to engage multiple actors?

Check out the notes from this discussion here.