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Introducing SIC NEW Networks! Academic, Funders and Climate Change

SIC has launched its 3 brand new networks!

The SIC project has been running for a year and a half, and in order to meet the constant changing needs of the Social Innovation field, the project is now kicking off its three new networks. The new networks are engaging three core set of actors (organisations/ individuals) and agendas which have surfaced most prominently in the past year: Academia and its role to play in terms of research into social innovation, Funders and how we can work together to better fund social innovation, and how local communities can tackle climate change to have a lasting impact.


Academia-Led Innovation

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-folded. It includes both how academics change mindset and practice but also how the surroundings learn and improve the collaboration with universities. Challenges can be relating to tempo and pace and the ability to deliver research fast enough for society and organisation in practice to use the knowledge. Relating to this challenge is the challenge of how we translate research for e.g. policy makers 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 we find an increase a number of Think Thanks offering research based input to societal development and decision making. SIC's Academia network will therefore be the first network to specifically support Academia's lead and role for social innovation.


Funding Innovation

There is rising investment in social innovation coming from both public, private. and third-sector organisations. In particular, philanthropy and larger foundations are increasing their investment, but also the strategic focus as to how to best invest and fund for reaching highest social outcome. The Funders network focuses on building capacity for the operations of Funding and Investment actors, as well as enabling a stronger collaboration helping to align the collective societal impact obtained by a wider social innovation community.


Climate Innovation Network

SIC's Climate Innovation Network will focus on local social innovation for climate action, and will be run by ECOLISE, a shared platform for learning, action and advocacy for communityled initiatives on climate change and sustainability in Europe. Through this network, SIC recognises:

● the need for urgent action, at all levels and by all stakeholders, to combat climate change and move towards sustainable development; 

● the need to create an implementation framework that promotes long-lasting impacts, addressing root causes and not just symptoms of unsustainable lifestyles;

● the huge upsurge in local, community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability in recent years and the opportunity this presents to greatly accelerate the transformation to a low-carbon society;

In this context, the ECOLISE strategy focuses on facilitating dialogue between EU policy makers and grassroots, community-led social innovators addressing climate change and sustainability on the development of a policy framework that accelerates the transformation to a low carbon society in Europe, ‘living well within the limits of our planet’. On the research side, there is already a compelling evidence base within published academic research for the effectiveness of the community-led approach: studies show that CO2 emissions in Danish ecovillages are 60% lower than the national average, while in Scotland, evaluations of community initiatives highlight their contribution to longterm lifestyle change. Nonetheless, significant barriers to interaction with mainstream discourse and lifestyles still exist, isolating key social innovations that could promote sustainability in wider society.

Overcoming these barriers in order to support a wider replication and up scaling of such local social innovations is the main goal of the network. We will push further the local social innovations’ component of this evidence base, highlighting the transformative potential of social innovation in grassroot approaches to climate action.