Investing together in Canada’s Social R&D capacity

Many charities and non-profits recognize that “business as usual” will not be sufficient in addressing complex social and environmental challenges. The systems we work in are changing quickly and it is important to have space and time to learn, reflect and test new kinds of practice that might lead to better social and environmental outcomes. To adapt to change and advance new approaches, we need to experiment in order to learn: testing new ideas on the ground, gathering or generating new evidence of what works and what does not, and sharing these results transparently and creatively so that promising approaches can be further developed and scaled.

The Social R&D Ecosystem Mobilization Initiative that McConnell Foundation, Innoweave and Social Innovation Canada are co-delivering aims to mainstream the adoption of social R&D tools and demonstrate their value. We hope to show that social R&D generates social innovations that can go to scale – whether as improved programs, public policies, or as initiatives that can be scaled up through a combination of public and private investment. 


The main components of the initiative are:

  • Identifying and filling knowledge gaps: The field of Social R&D is very new compared to conventional R&D in the industrial or tech sectors. Following a needs assessment, new toolkits, case studies, best practices, and other knowledge products will be developed and disseminated. Social Innovation Canada will be engaging with experts to help identify current and new tools for practitioners.
  • Connecting practitioners: Through support for convenings and communities of practice, we will help social purpose organizations involved in Social R&D connect to each other, share what they’re learning, and identify opportunities to create greater positive impact. 
  • Demonstration projects: Innoweave has just launched Expressions of Interest for funding for Social R&D demonstration projects of varying sizes (up to $25,000, or up to $100,000). Successful applicants to the Demonstration Fund will receive funding as well as support to contract coaches or experts in different aspects of Social R&D. Join an info session on this opportunity on Dec. 12, 1pm ET


Additional opportunities

Social Innovation Canada is currently hiring to support this work. Check out these exciting opportunities: 

Social R&D Program Assistant

Social R&D Program Manager

Request for Proposal for Convenings & Community of Practice

Call for Coaches: Innoweave is also interested in connecting with prospective coaches who are interested in accompanying and supporting this initiative through 2020. Learn more here.


Stay tuned for more upcoming news in the coming weeks about how we’ll be continuing to build the Social R&D field through 2020!


To learn more about the Investment Readiness Program, visit


Investment Readiness Program partners

McConnell Foundation, Innoweave and Social Innovation Canada (with support from the Employment and Social Development Canada’s Investment Readiness Program)