Field Building

A global network of diverse social innovation expertise.

Since establishing SIX in 2008, we’ve identified and connected social innovation leaders across the world to create a global network of expertise. Fuelled by a belief that change is more effective when people work collectively, our programme of activities offers curated and informed access to some truly inspirational people doing incredible things across a broad range of sectors and regions. For us, it is the combination of our people, knowledge and actions that lays the groundwork for societal transformation.

Why is field building important?

For any organisation or initiative to achieve the scale of impact necessary to address the large and complex challenges we face globally, we need to be organised, systematic and connected. We need a ‘field’ that can support our work.

Field building work is about bringing together disconnected people, ideas, experiments and finance to create an organised social innovation industry or sector. It is the invisible ‘plumbing’ that connects things and makes things just ‘work’. The organisations who do field building work are sometimes described as ‘field catalysts‘. You can read more about what field building is and who else does it here.

Our field building in practice

Field building takes time and patience. Our approach is demand-driven, responding to both the needs of the people in our network and changes in the world around us. The examples below show how SIX has built fields and helped others grow movements of their own.

Building consortiums

We help organisations find other people and organisations to work with to build large scale collaborative projects. We engage with partners with diverse set of skills and assets to co-create project ideas and proposals.

Bridging diverse

We bring unexpected groups of people together to create spaces where unlikely relationships can flourish. Diverse people learn from each other, new knowledge emerges and collaborations across sectors and silos are born. The Unusual Suspects festival does this at a city level, whilst our SI-Live series links theory and practice.

Influencing policy

At city, regional and national levels, we utilise co-creation and cross-country collaborations to develop social innovation narratives and enable policy environments where social innovation can flourish. Our work in Europe, Colombia and Seoul are good examples of how we’ve influenced policy.

Shaping the funding landscape

We support and challenge philanthropic foundations to use their power and resources more effectively to shape the landscape of social change. Learn more about this work through our Funders Node programme.

Using the power of storytelling to reframe narrative

We employ and advocate the power of storytelling to widen understanding of social innovation and introduce new ideas and concepts to different audiences. The SIX Wayfinder in 2020 is a good example of this approach.


Field building doesn’t happen over night. We’ve spent more than a decade building social innovation ecosystems at city, national and regional levels. Three examples are below:

SIX as a

People are at the heart of our field building work. We find and identify people doing incredible things all over the world. We’ve built a worldwide network of leading social innovation thinkers and practitioners, drawn from cities, governments, businesses, foundations, academia and civil society, to try and shift the dial on some of biggest challenges societies face in the world today.

SIX has expanded my world view and systemic thinking.
– Ada Wong

SIX network became a reference and a form of support for those of us in the municipality of Athens that grew interested in social innovation.
– Amalia Zepou

It made me stay humble with a greater desire to learn from others. Being a designer working in the field of social innovation, I could see the potential of mixing skills and experiences.
– Vincenzo Di Maria

It’s a place I would call home, it’s like-minded people. It’s about practitioners. It has all that comfort.
– Giulio Quagiotto

SIX invites us to engage with the “why.” SIX slows me down and removes me from my immediate context so that I can see the broader impacts and deeper implications of decisions.
– Kristin Wolff

It made me more hopeful to know that there is a big network of people asking similar questions and wanting similar kind of changes in the world. Having that awareness enables you to not give up big ideas.
– Kyriaki Papageorgiou

SIX has taught me the value of going deep and remaining diverse.
– Jungwon Kim

What I’ve always really valued about SIX is the openness to ideas. It’s always been great for me to come to SIX events, talk about ideas which are sort of slightly half formed and receive feedback on them.
– Charlie Leadbeater

SIX has been able to explain how networks operate in social innovation.
– Gorka Espiau

SIX is always trying to connect the head and the heart in terms of how we think about change.
– Geoff Mulgan

SIX has helped me when I was low on energy and motivation when it comes to social change. SIX has again and again helped me to restart my inner drive.
– Uffe Elbaek

The interaction with SIX helped to give a structure to the ideas on social innovation that me and the DESIS Network, were elaborating.
– Ezio Manzini

We run a varied and comprehensive events and programmes that drive the field of social innovation forward. All of these programmes are collaborations with our partners around the world. If you want to work with us to build the field in your sector or geography, get in touch:

SIX Funders Node

Driving philanthropy forward by working more effectively and authentically.


The Unusual Suspects Festival

Bringing together unlikely connections for social change — interweaving people, places and stories.


SIX Wayfinder

Navigating the field of social innovation, visioning the future and connecting global peers.


SIX Summer Schools

The original SIX event that grew the social innovation community – 9 Cities, 9 Summer Schools


Partner with us to drive the field of social innovation.