Flickr/Cameron Norman
Flickr/Cameron Norman

Having a pure, for-profit orientation topic is about the approach that you take and the outcomes you seek.

The goal isn’t a pure profit play, but rather a sustainable system which aims to create balanced benefits. It could be as basic as creating decent jobs for those who have none, or it could be a complicated solution that improves outcomes on a wicked social or environmental problem.

Defining Social Innovation

The European Social Innovation Research finds the five core features that are essential to social innovation are:
1.) Novelty: Social innovations are new to the field, sector, region, market or user, or to be applied in a new way
2. ) From ideas to implementation: Social innovation describes the implementation and application as new ideas, rather than just the development of new ideas (invention)
3.) Meets a social need: Social innovations are explicitly designed to meet a recognized social need
4.) Effectiveness: Social innovations are more effective than existing solutions – they create a measurable improvement in terms of outcomes
5.) Enhances society’s capacity to act: Social innovations empower beneficiaries by creating new roles and relationships, developing assets and capabilities and/or better use of assets and resources

They also listed common features, but were careful to note that a social innovation might display few or none of the following:
• Cross sectoral: Occur at the interfaces between sectors and involve actors from across sectors
• New social relationships and capabilities: Developed ‘with’ and ‘by’ users and not delivered ‘to’ and ‘for’ them. They can be identified by the type of relationships they create with and between their beneficiaries
• Open, collaborative and experimental: Often involve production by the masses – large numbers of people working independently on collective projects without normal market structures and mechanisms
• Prosumption and co-production: Frequently include blurred boundary between producers and consumers
• Grass-roots, bottom-up: Feature distributed systems where innovation and initiative are dispersed to the periphery and connected by networks
• Mutualism: Based on the idea that individual and collective well-being is obtainable only by mutual dependence
• Better use of assets and resources: Involves the recognition, exploitation, and coordination of latent social assets
• Development of capabilities and assets: Based on a participatory approach that enables beneficiaries to meet their needs over the longer term