Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 76

29 BizEd November/ December 2014 Take a Holistic Perspective I nnovation is multifaceted and occurs in various forms, but it's most commonly consid- ered from the mindset of product innovation. I often find that the many forms of social innova- tion—which include collabora- tions between stakeholders and the community—are not com- monly perceived as part of the innovation landscape. I believe we need to embrace a more holistic perspective on innovation, and one that uses a problem-solution lens. Therefore, my definition encompasses both economic and social value creation: Innovations respond to problems and unmet needs in areas of eco- nomic and/or social value, and they involve the application of new ideas and processes or the reapplication of existing ideas in new ways. A collaborative approach is usu- ally necessary for creating solutions that bring about societal change, and b-schools are essential collabo- rators. In 2010, the New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepre- neurship Research Centre (SIERC) was established at Massey Univer- sity's College of Business to provide a hub for interdisciplinary research and community engagement in social innovation and entrepre- neurship. It pools the expertise of three Massey campuses, bringing in scholars who work in disciplines such as economics, management, marketing, sociology, and psychol- ogy. SIERC associates also col- laborate on ongoing projects with external affiliates. To enable scholars and commu- nity members to share knowledge, SIERC provide several forums. These include two international conferences that have brought together social innovation and entrepreneurship stakeholders. For instance, in a special session in our 2013 conference, participants examined how nonprofits and community trusts exhibit resil- ience and adaptability. To increase the impact of our conferences, we make the proceedings free to access online. SIERC associates also col- laborate with practitioners to get social enterprise ideas off the ground. Our most recent collabora- tion is with ¯ Akina Foundation, a charitable trust. We will help assess what impact there has been on the individuals who have participated in ¯ Akina's "Launchpad," which helps teams develop their big ideas. Launchpad is a perfect example of a cross-sector collaboration, Students in the master in inno- vation program must write theses by assembling a set of real-world challenges, evaluating them, choos- ing one, and then solving it by generating an innovation. This is hard; the most common question each team faces is, "Where is the innovation?" Students have written theses on mining, energy, poverty, education, defense, and the food industry. One way we measure the suc- cess of our program is through the impact our graduates have had, and we think it's profound. Nearly 100 alumni have graduated from the master's in innovation pro- gram. Among them, they've created innovations that jointly have secured investment for more than US$10 million and produced 11 patents, and they have started up 15 new companies and ten cor- porate ventures. One of these start- ups, Innovaxxion, became the sec- ond-largest patenting firm in Chile in four years. An alum working for Arauco—a Chilean timber and forestry firm—helped the company become a poster child for inno- vation by using applied research to design Vesto, an antibacterial plywood, and AcercaRedes, a community-based social innova- tion project. The company is now a finalist for AVONNI, the Chilean national innovation award. Our master in innovation pro- gram has just enrolled its seventh generation of students; the sixth generation is finishing its course- work, while those in the fifth are finishing their theses. We are hope- ful that they, too, will use what we've taught them to inspire inno- vation and make an impact in the business world. ANNE DE BRUIN Professor of Economics Director of the New Zealand and Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre Massey University College of Business in New Zealand

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of BizEd - NovDec2014