In 2004 the Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) released their first review of Canadian social innovation titled “Social Innovation in Canada – how the non profit sector services Canadians and how it can serve them better”. On October 9, 2009 CPRN released its update called “Social Innovation in Canada – an update ” (no marks for snappy title!). Funded by SSHRC and authored by Mark Goldenberg (who authored the 2004 report) and colleagues with an introduction by CPRN President Sharon Manson Singer, the report presents a snapshot of Canadian social innovation through literature review, key informant interviews and provide recommendation for enhancing social innovation in Canada. York’s Vice-President Research & Innovation Stan Shapson and ResearchImpact’s David Phipps were pleased to be among the Canadian leaders engaged in social innovation to be interviewed by CPRN. York’s KM Unit and our ResearchImpact partners University of Victoria and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador got a shout out from Mark Goldenberg and his team.
Key findings include:
- The role of the non-profit sector in social innovation remains critical.
- There is increasing acceptance of social innovation and a broadening of our understanding of the concept.
- New forms of collaboration, both within and across sectors, new ways of working, and new models are emerging in the social innovation field.
- Canada is lagging behind other countries on some fronts.
- Further research, study, and work with respect to social innovation will be important in order to increase our understanding of it, including how to encourage it.
In addition to these key findings the report identifies that the for-profit sector has moved into the social innovation space in a way that was not seen in 2004. No surprises but the report identifies there is a lack of agreement on the definition of social innovation (read our previous blog post on this topic ). The report also offers 13 pages of references on social innovation providing a valuable resource for any reader. For ResearchImpact, key amongst these findings is the observation about new forms of collaboration. Since KM brokers relationships between researchers and their non-academic research stakeholders KM is itself a means of enabling those new forms of collaboration. We would add to CPRN’s report an examination of social media as an emerging infrastructure to increase transparency and thus enhance collaboration between social innovators (read the paper by Christian Dalsgaard and Morten Flate Paulsen on the use of social media in learning environments ).
“Social Innovation in Canada – an update” concludes by making six recommendations for governments, funders, universities, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations and the social innovators who work towards a better world. The last of these recommendations is “Knowledge transfer strategies and their adoption by social innovators need to be profiled and shared. This would help build capacity for social innovation”. For ResearchImpact this final recommendation is critical. Social innovators are natural knowledge mobilizers brokering relationships between social need and innovation capacity. We need to get our stories out and heard so that our KM practices can be themselves evidence based. Thank you Sharon, Mark and the rest of your team for keeping the conversation on social innovation going….what’s next?
Read the full report here.