Trust Commit to invest in Social Innovation

Trust Commit to invest in Social Innovation

12 April 2013

The Building Change Trust have launched research carried out by RSM McClure Watters and the Young Foundation, which is leading to a further committal of up to £1million into the area of Social Innovation in Northern Ireland.

The research discovered that while the term social innovation is not widely used in Northern Ireland although there are many examples of social innovation across Northern Ireland’s Community and Voluntary Sector.

It identified that social innovation was of critical importance now and in the future and that support was needed not just for third sector organisations but across the public and private sectors.

Social innovation is an emerging area of work and investment across the world and essentially refers to new ideas that meet social needs and which in doing so change relationships.

The Trust’s research into social innovation in Northern Ireland was commissioned by the Trust in 2012 and carried out by local consultancy firm RSM McClure Watters in association with the London based think-tank, The Young Foundation.

In addition to interviews with key individuals the research process involved a number of workshops across NI and the development of project case studies.

To oversee the work, an advisory group was established chaired by Robin Murray, a renowned industrial economist, lecturer and author who was also a leading light in the development of the Fair Trade movement in the UK.

The Young Foundation’s Director of Research, Will Norman, said: “There are many great examples of social innovation in Northern Ireland in areas as diverse as restorative justice, arts and culture and linked economic development.

“There is now a need and opportunity to develop and embed social innovation and this research suggests some ideas and approaches to do that”.

Bill Osborne, Chairperson of the Building Change Trust, said: “We are encouraged by the outcomes of this research but, if it tells us anything it is more work is needed in the area of social innovation.

“This is why the Trust is committing up to a further £1million of its fund to advance social innovation in Northern Ireland in the coming years.

“Whilst The Trust’s remit is to support development of the community and voluntary sector, we do not work in isolation and it is more important than ever that opportunities are identified to encourage and support innovation across the community, voluntary and public and private sector as well.

A summary of the report can be downloaded by clicking here, whilst the full report can be downloaded by clicking here

Some specific and new work on social innovation is already beginning to take place in Northern Ireland and for example Building Change Trust has provided grant aid to a London based specialist not-for-profit organisation SI Camp to work in Northern Ireland for the first time.

SI Camp seek to enable people to explore how new technology can be used to solve social issues and match up software developers and designers with people who know about a social problem they want to solve in a unique event called a Social Innovation Camp.

The first such event in NI will take place in Derry on 14 – 16 June at The Playhouse Theatre.