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Innovation hubs

One of the São Paolo Hub members - Taís Carolina Lucílio da Silva – Sales consultant for companies that develop eco products and designer of a line of eco-clothing. Images courtesy of the Hub.

Innovation hubs are shared work spaces which are specifically designed to promote collaboration and innovation – such as the CAN Mezzanine in the UK, Social Fusion in the US or the worldwide Hub, which is now located in 12 cities on four continents. The Hub is a global community of people from every profession, background and culture working at 'new frontiers' to tackle the world's most pressing social, cultural and environmental challenges. It is based on the idea that there is no absence of good ideas and that rather the problem is one of access, scale, resources and impact. So the Hub founders decided to create places around the world for people to access space and support, connections, knowledge, experience and investment. Borrowing from the best of a member's club, an innovation agency, a serviced office and a think-tank, the Hub have created a very different kind of innovation environment: places with all the tools and trimmings needed to grow and develop new ventures; places to access experience, knowledge, finance and markets. And above all, places for making connections.

 

Salad Club. The Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto organises a series of social events for its members to get together and learn more about each others’ projects. Image courtesy of the Centre for Social Innovation.

Another example is the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in Toronto. The CSI is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in its home base of Toronto and around the globe. Since its inception, the centre has refined and developed its own theory of social change – and this theory underpins much of its work. This theory is based on a pyramid with three levels: Space, Community and Innovation. They begin at the bottom of the pyramid, focusing on the creation of the physical space. They do this carefully, designing a space that’s functional, whimsical, inviting and energizing. The next layer is community. What begins as a group of people looking for a place to work becomes a community through conscious and careful curating and programming. These layers form the basis for innovation - the serendipity that happens when you mix the right people, the right values and the right environment; when you set the conditions for social innovation emergence. It is this unique approach that distinguishes the CSI model and which forms the basis for the impact it has achieved.