Advancing enterprises that enable social change
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Enable Social Change
BY MEGHAN OCKEY AND ANDREA MENDIZABAL
new program to support the development and
growth of social innovation and enterprise was
announced in a partnership between Innovate
Calgary and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The program
targets the advancement of social innovations that provide
a solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient
or sustainable than current solutions, and that have the
potential to provide a positive social impact.
Innovate Calgary is working with University of Calgary
researchers in efforts to identify social innovations with
high-impact and commercialization potential.
This collaboration is creating new business startups, or social
enterprises, through which to deliver social innovations to
Innovate Calgary is joined by RBC by helping to fund
additional resources, allowing Innovate Calgary to provide
support to more social enterprises.
“At RBC, we believe businesses can achieve financial
sustainability while making a positive impact on society,”
says Sandra Odendahl, RBC’s director of social innovation
and business integration. “We are so pleased to partner with
Innovate Calgary on this new and exciting program, which is
helping social entrepreneurs take their innovations to market.”
Social enterprises can span a variety of sectors including
social, clinical, education and environment. The key
differentiator for social enterprises is the impact, which
drives business decisions.
Prior to having an official program in place, the first social
enterprise Innovate Calgary worked with was LivingWorks
Education in the 1990s. LivingWorks is a suicide prevention
training company that was developed at the University of
Calgary and now has international reach.
“LivingWorks’ programs were delivered worldwide to more
than 150,000 participants last year. That is the kind of
impact social innovation research can and will have,” says
Ken Porter, vice president, intellectual property management
at Innovate Calgary. “There is tremendous opportunity to
advancing social enterprise.”
Many social entrepreneurs aim to achieve large-scale,
international adoption. “Innovate Calgary’s startup
investment helped us grow beyond Alberta,” says Richard
Ramsay, professor emeritus of social work, and one of the
four co-founders of LivingWorks. “We’ve since become a
world leader in suicide prevention training.”
Innovate Calgary is currently working with a number
of high-potential innovations from the University of
Calgary including Gender@Work – a program working with
companies on gender equity and diversity initiatives. Gender
inequity is a worldwide issue, one that Professor Rebecca
Sullivan’s research, with the help of Innovate Calgary, has the
potential to address.
Research can turn into life-changing enterprises and
Gender@Work is a prime example of a social enterprise
with the potential for global applications. Through its new
program, Innovate Calgary is well positioned to help propel
more innovations to an international audience.
To learn more about Innovate Calgary and how it supports
new and emerging technology, visit innovatecalgary.com.
FEBRUARY 2016 // BUSINESS IN CALGARY // BUSINESSINCALGARY.COM