The Trust and Social Innovation in 2016

The Trust and Social Innovation in 2016

17 January 2017

The highlight of the year was the launch of the Building Change Trust’s new initiative – Social Innovation NI during the Unusual Suspects Festival.

Social Innovation NI was set up as the vehicle to support people and organisations that want to introduce the concept of social innovation – the use of novel solutions to social problems – to their work.

It offers collaboration between organisations in the public, private and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sectors aiming to make it easier for those with innovative solutions to social challenges to access the support they need to deliver their ideas. The organisations involved are the Building Change Trust, NICVA, Innovate NI and Work West.

Social Innovation NI was launched in the middle of the highly successful Unusual Suspects Festival which took place from October 12-14 in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry.

The Unusual Suspects brought together local organisations and some of the world’s experts in social change in a series of workshops to discuss everything from transformation and peace-building to considering how business can help develop active and healthy communities.

Details and highlights of the Unusual Suspects Festival can be viewed on the Social Innovation Exchange website including this five minute film and this report.

Since the festival there have been eight workshops delivered by NICVA and Social Innovation NI throughout Northern Ireland to introduce people to the concept of social innovation. The key objective of Social Innovation NI is to deliver innovation support and provide information about other help available – both funding and technical – in Northern Ireland and beyond.

During its launch we revealed details of our new Social Skills Innovation Programme and our second Techies in Residence Programme, which will run concurrently in 2017. We received a total of 34 applications for the two programmes which just closed on December 11.

The Social Innovation Skills Programme aims to equip people in Northern Ireland with the skills and methods to help them think outside the box to solve problems.

The Techies in Residence is a very successful programme which places a tech professional with a VCSE organization to solve a particular social challenge and develop a new digital technology product.

The first Techies in Residence programme was completed in June 2016 and there are case studies of the results on the Social Innovation NI website –

One notable success was the development of the JAM Card for the NOW group. The JAM Card was developed into a digitized card which maps out which shops and businesses are best for disabled users. After completion of the Techies in Residence Programme, the NOW group received £50,000 in funding from the Big Lottery Fund to develop the idea further.

2016 saw a lot of exciting developments in the field of social innovation and our aim is to continue this work to make social innovation the new norm in Northern Ireland’s VCSE sector.

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