I’m using this blog to do the inelegant thing of thinking through a research project, so bear with me for a while. What I’ve come to realise over the past few months – spanning our research project into faith-based social action and time in Mumbai  – is that social innovation can happen at any time, anywhere, although there are certain conditions under which it is more likely.

These conditions include some form of incubation (systemised or not),  financial support through seed funding (or proxy financial aid), a facilitative legislative environment (I’m thinking here about things like Right to Information in India, or Open Data in the UK), politico-administrative goodwill and a civic infrastructure of some sort (neighbourhood groups, faith groups, interest groups and combinations/coalitions thereof).

For the sake of sounding pompous I’ve decided to call these social innovation ecologies, reflecting the heterogeneity of conditions under which social innovation flourishes. In terms of geographical scales, I’m most interested in social innovation ecologies in complex cities like Mumbai, London and Nairobi. I’ll flesh this out over the coming weeks, and relate it to the “trees and bees” theories that the Young Foundation have drawn on in recent years.

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