Social Innovation Generation (SiG) is a partnership founded in 2007 and jointly developed by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), the MaRS Discovery District, and the PLAN Institute.
Our ultimate goal is to be a catalyst for supporting whole system change by contributing to changing the broader economic, cultural and policy context in Canada to allow social innovations to flourish. SiG intentionally engages partners across all sectors to create a culture of continuous social innovation.
Canada’s social impact sector has built a high level of capacities, capabilities and standards in areas such as volunteer management, donor stewardship, and program delivery. While this merits recognition, there is also a growing consensus that problem-solving in the 21st century requires us to ramp up capacity and capability building in social R&DSocial R&D: refers to a combination of organizational competency, embedded culture and craft that is intentionally applied to continuously research and experiment with the goal of deploying innovation to improve lives..
In the early stages of development, we focus on four main areas of enhancement for social and grantmaking organizations:
- Demystifying R&D and demonstrating it in action
- Catalyzing a community of practice
- Highlighting and sharing practices
- Influencing policy
To enhance Canada’s innovation system so that it generates inclusive growth and advances Canadian prosperity, a concerted, comprehensive strategy is needed. This involves integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as business and social innovation, using resources that enable the incubation of ideas and products, market access, procurement, talent development, social financing and partnership building.
Deploying an integrative strategy will result in federal funding bodies and policy-makers accelerating:
- the integration of STEM as well as business and social innovation as the cornerstones of the Canadian Government’s Innovation Agenda, focusing innovation policy on reaching linked economic and social goals (shared value)
- a targeted plan to leverage social innovation as a mainstream practice and further develop the ecosystem of social innovators in response to core government goals for reconciliation, youth leadership, the next economy, climate change, etc.
Ecosystems are an analogy to help us to think about and frame the systems in which we live. They reflect the generative power and complexity of both human and natural systems.
Why Ecosystems for Systems Change?
- Complex problems are entrenched in systems; it takes a systems view to identify root causes.
- As a result, the social innovation movement is necessarily enmeshed across sectors and scales.
- Our greatest opportunity for tackling complex problems will be when dynamic, healthy innovation ecosystems produce outcomes that are greater than the sum of their parts.
We can be intentional about fostering systemic conditions that enable social innovation. In pursuit of our mission, we have learned much about feeding healthy social innovation ecosystems.
Impacts & Lessons
Getting to Moonshot
Canada spends over $300 billion annually on social outcomes, according to the OECD. Our fast-evolving societal challenges -- ranging from mental health, Indigenous communitiescategory access to quality education, and a lack of affordable housing -- demand equally fast-paced and nimble research, learning, experimental and replicating approaches so people can access the best possible services, supports and solutions, no matter where they live in Canada. This is where R&D comes in.Learn More
Patterns, Principles, and Practices in Social Innovation
Explores various dimensions of the field of social innovation and discusses the evidence of its existence and its growth throughout the world. Originally published in The Philanthropist.Learn More