Higher education heretic, social innovation junkie, Arsenal saddo.
Amid the gloom of protracted, relentless austerity, it’s easy to lose sight of the economic value of social innovation. Social innovation shouldn’t be thought of as a boomtime luxury or an expensive mode of social experimentation, but as a new approach to an unmet social need that has the potential to reap economic rewards by meeting these needs in more cost-effective ways. This is true in the sense that social innovation is often preventative – disrupting the patterns, processes and behaviours which cause social problems. It is also true because social innovation is often accomplished through social enterprise, which can be profitable (with double or triple bottom lines) For these reasons social innovation needs to be framed as part of a growth solution, and not as part of spend “problem”. This is probably something Ed Miliband’s Labour should be saying as a progressive, centre-left retort to the coalition’s twin monsters of austerity and Big Society. If social innovation isn’t a cornerstone of the “Good Society”, what is?