The summer school was hosted by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation from 15 – 17 September 2010, and brought together many of the leading social innovation practitioners from all parts of the world, from business, government and the non-profit sector. The theme was ‘SIX and the city’ looking in particular at how cities could harness the energy, knowledge and creativity of its inhabitants to speed up their ability to respond to the climate change, chronic disease and ageing populations
As the demography of the world is changes, more of us are living longer, and more than half the world’s population now lives in cities. It is recognised that to deal with these changes, and with the acute social and environmental challenges they bring, we need to innovate better solutions. Cities all over the world have long been finding imaginative ways of dealing with these challenges, but for radical innovations to spread, we need to speed up the process of learning and exchange between countries.
The event drew together the best examples of city innovations from around the world, and enabled participants to learn from each other to address:
- Conditions for innovation: How can we empower cities to radically innovate to more quickly address pressing social challenges? What are the specific tools and institutions that are helping cities to creatively solve their problems?
- Barriers for innovation: What is preventing some cities becoming truly innovative? Is it a matter of a lack of institutions or the right people; is it a problem of governance; or a cultural issue, are people just scared of taking risks?
- To what extent does either the physical environment of a city, or its virtual environment, hinder or foster social innovation?
As well as focusing on cities, the event also drew on new research surveying how different methods – of finance, design, commissioning and scaling – could be used in fields such as this.