Back to top

Blog series: Social Innovation and Academia: the why, how and who?

Julie MunkSenior Programme Manager, SIX

Blog series: Social Innovation and Academia: the why, how and who?

I have written a series of blogs which explore the relationship between social innovation and academia and the ability to bridge these worlds to challenge academia’s institutional purposes and logics, rethinking and reacting its societal impact and understanding how transformations in academia are social innovations themselves.

By looking at the why, the how and the who, this blog series will put forward insights drawing on the ongoing work and engagements of the Social Innovation Community’s Academic-led Innovation Network.

All literature on social innovation emphasises that social innovation can happen in, and across all 4 major sectors - Private, Public, Community/NGO,and Academia. In particular, the Open Book on Social Innovation (2010), emphasises the importance of connecting across these sectors.

The challenge for academia in social innovation is two-fold. It includes both how academics change mindset and practice, but also how the surroundings (e.g. external organisations)  learn and improve the collaboration with universities. Challenges can relate to tempo and pace, and the ability to deliver research fast enough for society and organisations in practice to use the knowledge.

Relating to this is the challenge of how we translate research for others, like policymakers, to ‘understand it’. During the last five years, more and more innovation units (social innovation labs, social entrepreneurship programs or university innovation strategies) have been initiated globally as a response to these challenges. The increase in innovation units within academia occurs at the same time as an increase in the number of think tanks offering research based input to societal development and decision making. I have previously captured some of the ways we see a reorganisation for academia’s impact in society here.

SIC's Academia network is the first network to specifically support academia's lead and role for social innovation.

Blog series: Social Innovation and academia: the why, how and who

- Academia and Social Innovation: Why?
The problems, needs and potentials

- Academia and Social Innovation: How?
Four recommendations for bridging social innovation and academia


- Academia and Social Innovation: Who?
Personalities of a social innovation culture in academia


Read more from our work with Academic-Led Innovation here

And find out more from our research community here