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Accelerate Social R&D

Question:How can Canada become the best country in attracting and developing talent?
on 10/27/2016 1477603337
The OECD estimates Canada spends over $300 billion on social outcomes. Unlocking Canada’s social assets, and dramatically improving Canada&rsquo .... Read more

The OECD estimates Canada spends over $300 billion on social outcomes. Unlocking Canada’s social assets, and dramatically improving Canada’s social performance, requires the intentional acceleration of Canada’s research and development capabilities across the social sector, aka “Social R&D:”

  1. Broaden eligibility for R&D funding and other federal support programs, to include nonprofit social impact organizations.
  2. Support the development of Social R&D open data infrastructure, metrics and assessment to accelerate impact as a learning sector.
  3. Expand and continuously update national well-being indices building on the Canadian Wellbeing and Social Progress indices.
  4. Support a dedicated Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund (IIDF) housed at Grand Challenges Canada.
  5. Provide long term funding for the applied research capabilities of universities and colleges to expand and integrate strong knowledge building, transfer and experiential learning partnerships with community organizations and business for social impact; examples are: the Community College Social Innovation Fund, ResearchImpact, LabWise, the UNB 7-lab network, the Systemic Design Exchange, CityStudio, Radius @SFU, RECODE, etc.
  6. Support development of a Pro Bono Marketplace (PBM) for skills-based volunteering that gives non-profits access to specialized management skills, tools and experience found in the private sector that they need in order to address specific challenges and opportunities, improve overall organizational learning and performance, and further strengthen working partnerships with the business community.
  7. Expand resources available for Social R&D through a contribution to the establishment of an arms-length multi-sector and multi-department fund that aggregates, reviews, and disburses philanthropic, private and public capital for high-impact experimentation. The fund would structure deals in a way that minimizes risk to public capital.
Credit: Social Innovation Generation

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Enhance business development services to better include social enterprise

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 10/24/2016 1477327141
The opportunity exists to expand access to business services, such as the Canadian Business Network, for various organizational forms - not just those .... Read more

The opportunity exists to expand access to business services, such as the Canadian Business Network, for various organizational forms - not just those with private or corporate ownership. Co-operatives are a good example of social enterprise given their commitment to social responsibility. 

Credit: Momentum Community Economic Development Society

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Embrace & Support Social Innovation

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 10/13/2016 1476376836
We believe strongly that Canada's innovation agenda must include and embrace social innovation, which will enhance the well-being of Canadians and con .... Read more

We believe strongly that Canada's innovation agenda must include and embrace social innovation, which will enhance the well-being of Canadians and contribute to economic growth. An equitable, resilient, and sustainable Canada results in strong economic growth in the same way that the business world’s client-centric strategies deliver exponential growth and success to a corporation. As we see it, social innovation invites new thinking, new products and new ways of improving the lives of all Canadians. In order to stimulate, strengthen and scale up social innovation in Canada, the time has come to create a thriving social innovation ecosystem

Credit: United Way London & Middlesex

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Make it easier for Impact Investors to support nonprofit led social enterprise

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/16/2016 1474051233
There is a lot of interest in impact investing in Canada.  The concept of doing well while doing good is a very attractive triple bottom line proposi .... Read more

There is a lot of interest in impact investing in Canada.  The concept of doing well while doing good is a very attractive triple bottom line proposition.  Impact investors can provide longer term patient capital and take returns that are based on a return on inspiration as well as financial yield.

Despite the interest and the curiosity in impact investing, many would be investors in social enterprise are reluctant to give up an expectation of high financial return from perceived high risk investments in social enterprises.  This is particularly problematic for nonprofit social enterprises where mission is balanced with financial return.

Policy makers would do well to find innovative ways to support impact investing in nonprofit led social enterprises.  Patient capital with modest financial return expectations invested in nonprofit led social enterprise will yield high benefits on social, environmental and reconciliation goals.  Thoughtful tax policy, creative leverage opportunities and creation of pooled funds that can absorb some of the due diligence and monitoring costs can result in less dependence on government and help build the world we want for our grandchildren.

Credit: New Market Funds; Vancity; Renewal Funds; Tides Canada

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Support Nonprofit Social Entrepreneurs

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/16/2016 1474046097
Canada is rich with nonprofit social entrepreneurs who see market forces as a powerful tool to help change the world.  Realizing that government and .... Read more

Canada is rich with nonprofit social entrepreneurs who see market forces as a powerful tool to help change the world.  Realizing that government and foundation dollars will never be enough to meet social and environmental needs, nonprofit entrepreneurs are looking for ways to advance their mission with products and services that have commercial value.  What is missing is the funding to help get things started. 

Restricted by CRA regulations from the equity capital market, limited by a lack of collateral from debt financing, as charities unable to use credit cards and friends and family money, nonprofit social entrepreneurs have nowhere to turn for early stage capital to support business planning and market testing.  Grant funding is needed to provide nonprofit social enterprises with the resources to develop new ideas, test them in the market and put together the business plans to launch.   

Investment in nonprofit social entrepreneurship will yield triple bottom line results that can help address social, environmental and reconciliation challenges without growing dependence on subsidy dollars.  Early investment has to be in the pre-launch activities of idea formation, concept testing, market research and business planning.  Not all will succeed but those that do will help change the world.

 

Credit: Ecotrust Canada; Potluck Cafe; Climate Smart; The AMP; Ecotrust Canada Capital; the Binners Project

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STEM Learning Ecosystem

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 09/14/2016 1473894497
Cross-sector collaboration of science and technology education providers can result in a "learning ecosystem" with high potential for scaling. See th .... Read more

Cross-sector collaboration of science and technology education providers can result in a "learning ecosystem" with high potential for scaling. See the attached document for details.

Credit: Organizations include UBC, SFU, Genome BC, BC Science Teachers Assn, & the Mitchell Odyssey Fdn.

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Small changes that create ripple effects in standard business practices

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/07/2016 1473274118
Social Travel creates a group travel buying environment for all NGOs across Canada, and reinvests net profits into travel sustainability, while maint .... Read more

Social Travel creates a group travel buying environment for all NGOs across Canada, and reinvests net profits into travel sustainability, while maintaining current market prices.  All NGOs and socially conscious individuals are welcome to become member and enjoy an Uber like service meant to disrupt the centralization of travel buying today.

Credit: Matthew, Cloutier, Ashutosh Jha, Tim Ciostigan, Tanya Surman, Eryn Corbeil, Nadeem Qureshi

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Small changes that create ripple effects in standard business practices

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/07/2016 1473274117
Social Travel creates a group travel buying environment for all NGOs across Canada, and reinvests net profits into travel sustainability, while maint .... Read more

Social Travel creates a group travel buying environment for all NGOs across Canada, and reinvests net profits into travel sustainability, while maintaining current market prices.  All NGOs and socially conscious individuals are welcome to become member and enjoy an Uber like service meant to disrupt the centralization of travel buying today.

Credit: Matthew, Cloutier, Ashutosh Jha, Tim Ciostigan, Tanya Surman, Eryn Corbeil, Nadeem Qureshi

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Invest in Social Innovation & Social Enterprise Acceleration

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 09/01/2016 1472766620
Supporting social innovation will not only create more jobs & grow our economy, it also promise to address root causes and ultimately save governmen .... Read more
  1. Supporting social innovation will not only create more jobs & grow our economy, it also promise to address root causes and ultimately save government money by solving concrete social, environmental, cultural & economic challenges for generations to come.
  2. Support the entire social enterprise pipeline from inception to scale like any business sector e.g. auto, tech, bio-tech, mining, oil & gas etc.
  3. Increase Canadian access to education on complexity, innovation & design thinking
Credit: Centre for Social Innovation

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Play a Greater Role in International Social Innovation Leadership

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/26/2016 1472223620
Québec's social economy and Canada's co-operative movement are internationally recognized. This fall, Canada is hosting the Global Social Economy For .... Read more

Québec's social economy and Canada's co-operative movement are internationally recognized. This fall, Canada is hosting the Global Social Economy Forum, and the International Summit on Co-operatives, two of the largest conferences in the world on the social economy and co-operatives. Canada's rich social economy and co-operative leadership should be celebrated on the world stage by supporting the participation of Canadian organizations and institutions in international networks such as the United Nations Task Force on the Social Solidarity Economy, the OECD Forum on Social Innovations and others.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale

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Modernize Regulations for Charities and Non-Profits Operating Businesses

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057846
Provide a supportive regulatory framework giving charities and non-profits more flexibility to pursue business models that generate both social and fi .... Read more

Provide a supportive regulatory framework giving charities and non-profits more flexibility to pursue business models that generate both social and financial impacts. This should involve clarifying and updating Canada Revenue Agency guidance, and redesigning the Income Tax regime and other regulatory issues.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Social Enterprise Council of Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale

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Improve Access to Business Development Programs for Co-operatives and Non-profits

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057770
Expand the capacity and access to existing small and medium enterprise services through the Canadian Business Network and other federal business devel .... Read more

Expand the capacity and access to existing small and medium enterprise services through the Canadian Business Network and other federal business development programs to enhance business supports and readiness for investment by social enterprises and co-operatives.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Social Enterprise Council of Canada, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantie

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Create Tailored Investment Funds

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057641
Contribute to the capitalization of tailored investment funds such as the Co-operative Investment Fund proposed by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, t .... Read more

Contribute to the capitalization of tailored investment funds such as the Co-operative Investment Fund proposed by Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, the non-profit social enterprise investment fund proposed by the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, and the social finance fund of funds proposed by the National Impact Investment Practitioners Table.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale, Social Enter

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Use Social Procurement and Community Benefit Agreements for Inclusive Growth

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/24/2016 1472057550
Support enhanced market access for social enterprises and co-operatives by stimulating demand through social procurement policies and community benefi .... Read more

Support enhanced market access for social enterprises and co-operatives by stimulating demand through social procurement policies and community benefit agreements. Initiatives such as Buy Social Canada, L'économie sociale, j'achète, ECPAR and the Toronto Community Benefits Network are leading Canadian examples of this rapidly emerging practice.

Credit: Canadian CED Network, Buy Social Canada, Chantier de l'économie sociale, Toronto Community Benefits

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Centralize and disseminate community information

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 08/23/2016 1471976610
When government departments announce events, initiatives, grants, programs, etc they should submit information into a central database, tagged with us .... Read more

When government departments announce events, initiatives, grants, programs, etc they should submit information into a central database, tagged with user selection filters (eg Heritage,Arts,Science,Aboriginal,Digital,Ontario etc), and dated. Allow Canadians to register and select the tags of interest such that new information is automatically pushed or emailed to interested parties. This way Canadians are proactively informed of news relevant to their needs, instead of finding out by accident, or never, as is most often the case. Searching through myriad government documents scattered over diverse platforms isn't practical. Think Google Alerts system for the Canadian government. Keep us informed EASILY.

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Include Social Purchasing Values in all government procurement and infrastructure

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 07/24/2016 1469372797
Every purchase has an economic, social and environmental ripple effect! Insuring best value in purchasing means considering  the full cost and true i .... Read more

Every purchase has an economic, social and environmental ripple effect! Insuring best value in purchasing means considering  the full cost and true impact created when government spends tax payer money on goods and services and infrastructure. Adding a social value into the mix of price, quality and environment will enhance the demand for social enterprise goods and services. A requirement for social value consideration in purchasing will lead private sector government contractors to implement stronger social values into their bids, often opening up sub-contract opportunities for social enterprises. See www.buysocialcanada.ca

 

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Create a supportive environment for Social Enterprise

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 07/16/2016 1468695066
Social Enterprises, community based non-profit businesses that prioritize social impact, require a supportive environment in order to develop, grow, a .... Read more

Social Enterprises, community based non-profit businesses that prioritize social impact, require a supportive environment in order to develop, grow, and scale.

  • Gov of Canada should insure that all SME business services are available to non-profit operated businesses - where already allowed then the appropriate services made available; where denied services then regulatory fix is required
  • Social value considerations and impact should be required element of all government purchasing and infrastructure investments
  • Appropriate financing opportunities and impact investment options need to be supported
  • Establish a supportive regulatory environment for non-profit enterprise activities - including clarifying charity based enterprise activity and non-profit revenue generation

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Social Innovation of Collaborative Commons - to Complement Rapid Technological Innovation

Question:What more can be done to cement Canada's place as a leader in social entrepreneurship?
on 07/10/2016 1468165446
Rapid technological advances are both enabling and driving a shift toward Collaborative Commons (CC) as a socio-economic paradigm of the future (see B .... Read more

Rapid technological advances are both enabling and driving a shift toward Collaborative Commons (CC) as a socio-economic paradigm of the future (see Background below). 

Social innovation, parallel to technological innovation, is needed to

  • Maximize the opportunities and benefits for ALL Canadians from CC
  • Minimize the inevitable disruption to lives during  transition to CC
  • Enable graceful transitional or sustained interplay with existing socio-economic models (as needed)
  • Discover the limits and avoid any pitfalls of CC
  • Engender trust among participants in CC
  • Develop a minimally intrusive Canadian regulatory framework to facilitate the above

To that end, the following is recommended:

  • Increase funding for Collaborative Commons academic research in social sciences and economics with the above objectives.
  • Establish a social entrepreneurship fund to support creation of specifically micro Collaborative Commons, and functional elements of Collaborative Commons.  Evaluate results.
  • Hold national events and competitions in Collaborative Commons innovation.
  • Develop prototype regulations relating to Collaborative Commons and run regulatory pilots to discover what works, before enacting (or not) fully into law.
  • Engage Canadians about Collaborative Commons to gather maximum diversity of ideas and input and generally garner buy-in (or not).
  • Collaborate with like-minded democratic states for additional innovation diversity and synergistic global implementation of Collaborative Commons

Background and Why

Society (and economy) is on the cusp of a dramatic disruption due to exponential rise in technological capability.   Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics borne out of radical escalation of compute power, coupled with advances in sensor and communication technologies, and the ubiquity of the Internet have spawned the Internet of Things (IoT).  IoT is resolutely driving us into the Fourth Industrial revolution dominated by cyber-physical systems.  This will not only sharply reduce the need for human labour, it will also increasingly chip away the volume of human intellect and oversight needed.

At the same time, the Web is enabling the sharing economy.  It’s taking hold due to the inherent pull of convenience and cost savings, personal economic necessity, and desire for environmental sustainability.  The latter is also driving the Circular Economy, where materials and energy embedded in end-of-life products are recirculated into new goods and energy.  Both the sharing and circular economies will reduce the total volume of manufactured goods and raw materials needed, again correspondingly reducing the total human labour, intellect and oversight needed.

The double whammy of efficiencies and the reduced need for goods from above will, for many, reduce or eliminate the means for equitable living and ability to retain agency in society and economy.  Under the existing socio-economic paradigms, this concern will only deepen with ongoing technological advancements, further hollowing out the middle class.  The answer is definitely NOT to stall or stop technology.  On the contrary, Canadian technological innovation must forge ahead at full steam to enable us to compete internationally and grow the total national wealth.  However, social innovation must be tapped to enable ALL Canadians to both contribute to and take from the common wealth, and have full societal agency.

Fortunately an emerging “COLLABORATIVE COMMONS” paradigm shows promise as a new socio-economic order – both organically enabled by the Internet of Things, as well as a reaction to its impacts and side effects.  Collaborative Commons (CC) is characterised by open source information, technology and energy; the blurring of consumer vs. producers into prosumers; access to products becoming the norm over product ownership; and rise of the gig economy over traditional employment.  Basically, it’s a society where citizens and organizations openly collaborate to both create common wealth and draw from it.

While ad-hoc CC instances in some sectors are already generating benefits for its constituents, there are still many unanswered questions and challenges going forward.  What are the trade-offs between different CC models and what model(s) work best?  How can trust, which is critical to collaboration, be engendered and supported among participants? What might be some negative side-effects of CC?  How does CC interplay with traditional market economies, what sectors are best suited for CC, and what are the transition timeframes and trade-offs? What regulatory supports are needed to enable, ease transition, and protect against undesired aspects of the CC?  A heavy dose of Social Innovation is needed now to address the unknowns so that civil society can come out whole on the other side of the transition into Collaborative Commons.

This and related topics are skillfully covered by economist Jeremy Rifkin in The Zero Marginal Cost Society, and related works such as The Sharing Economy by Arun Sundararajan, and Makers and Takers by Rana Foroohar.

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