Brodie McCulloch has done an unofficial survey on what happens around the country when it comes to social innovation.
It seems we all do things differently, so the following info is valuable.
Brodie McCulloch is the Cyclefreo Project Manager. Having worked in Marketing and Revenue for a number of large multinational companies and Brodie is now using this experience in the Social Enterprise arena.
For more information about Brodie you can visit www.brodiemcculloch.com
“An unnofficial survey of who’s who and who’s doing what in which state when it comes to social innovation.
Over the past few months I have been hunting down the right people to talk to about Social Enterprise and where it is currently heading in Australia. This stemmed from the desire to start a bike sharing social enterprise in the City of Fremantle, Western Australia and quickly finding out that very few people actually knew what I was talking about when I mentioned Social Enterprise and my Socially Innovative solution to inner city transportation.
This started me thinking that if I, a reasonably well equipped and resourceful lad coming from working in marketing for the past 8 years, was having a tough time finding support and understanding for my idea; how would someone with no background in research who just had an amazing idea find the resources and support they need to move from idea to pilot program with continued support to scale the business for maximum social impact?
So what is each state doing to nurture and develop Social Innovation and is there any co-ordination on a national scale?
I will begin with West Australia because I live here so it is the easiest to cover. West Australia has recently had some strong moves forward in the Social Innovation field and encouragement of Social Enterprise with the WA Premier Colin Barnett announcing 12 million dollars starting 2011 for the funding of socially innovative ideas. Policy is still in the works on how this will be allocated and who will be eligible however there was a press release so it must be true.
Unfortunately it is another story when it comes to organisations who create the infrastructure for people or businesses with ideas to go to and hash out their idea into a project with ongoing training, support and investment…these necessary seed establishments do not exist at all. A phone call to the Small Business Development Corporation resulted in the answer “but how do you make money off that if it all goes back into the community…” a lot of education to do here.
The Center for Social Impact has partnered with the University of Western Australia however it is still early days and this organisation is currently focusing on big business measurement of social impact from their various sustainability and social projects. This is fine but it points out the need for ground level organisations as there are many businesses already operating in this space however they are not connected to each other or know that what they are doing is creative and needs to be replicated.
So in short WA has the cash but lacks the infrastructure to assist where it counts.
Now South Australia is where it is at…which really surprised me but I guess when you don’t have mines paying everyone large sums of money for anything they do you need to look at how things can be changed for the better by doing things differently.
South Australia houses The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) which is in the process of judging its Bold Ideas, Better Lives challenge that had over 250 applicants from around Australia focused on Socially Innovative ideas that can make real change. This is in the form of 10 winners who will split 1 million dollars to move their projects forward as well as receiving some world class assistance to get their idea moving.
TACSI was setup in 2009 and is looking at innovative ways social problems can be solved using a number of different thinking strategies. What is impressive about TACSI is that they are working with Local and State Government to run pilot projects around specific issues, this has the clear advantage that if the project is successful they have the ability to roll out the project on a much larger scale. So with both State and Local Government backing and support organisations in place South Australia is in a good position to really push Social Innovation forward.
I am going to do something that will probably get me in trouble but here it goes. I haven’t heard anything on the Social Innovation front out of Queensland, The Northern Territory or Tasmania. Now before I get slammed with emails from these states I am referring to Government support of Organisations focused on delivering services and support to entrepreneurs and people with ideas. I am sure there must be things moving in these states (and territory) but I am yet to connect with anyone who has any solid contacts. If you are working on Social Innovation or in the Social Enterprise field let me know because you must be getting pretty lonely…
Now for Victoria and New South Wales both of which have taken quite separate paths in their move towards embracing Social Innovation as a way of tackling Social Issues.
Victoria has probably had the greatest investment and progress in the field of Social Innovation. Melbourne hosted the Social Enterprise Would Forum last October which had a solid attendance for a field that is relatively new in Australia. Victoria also has Social Traders; an organisaiton se up to support and promote Social Innovation in Victoria and has just launched a similar challenge to TACSI but with 2 million dollars in awards for successful applicants. The Victorian State Government has well resourced organisations who are moving in the Social Innovation field while keeping definitions loose enough to really allow people to be creative in what they do and the business models they create.
New South Wales has taken the opposite approach where Social Innovation is being pushed at a Local Government level. This is important because many projects develop at this level and the main contact people with ideas are going to have is with their local government. The City of Parramatta could be viewed as the leader in its field for local Governments due to its appointment of a full time position of Officer – Social Enterprise…forward thinking. This has resulted with a Social Innovation Hub where people can obtain support for their ideas.
Another important organisation that is based in Sydney is the School for Social Entrepreneurs, this is a highly focused program that has been brought over from the UK (who are considered the leaders world wide) and has now just started their first class in Melbourne. People who enter the program need to have an idea that they want to develop and they are supported and given the tools to make this idea a reality.
The final organisation is the Australian Social Innovation Exchange (ASIX) which has been running a number of workshops and projects as well as building a network of like minded people through their website, this grass roots development and support for Social Innovation is going to be key.
So there are different levels of engagement although fragmented in each state I have found that each of their service delivery organisations are talking to each other and if not moving in the same direction they are having a conversation about why they aren’t moving in the same direction (although it looks as though everyone is on the same page). What it ultimately comes down to is that Australia as a county is focusing on Social Innovation rather than pigeon holing a specific model or design it is fostering the development of innovative solutions using not one but a variety of models to meet our social needs.
As for an organisation sitting in Canberra which dictates policy and co-ordinates efforts…it doesn’t exist. Maybe for now (or forever) it does not need to exist and organic connections and co-operation need to take place in order to build relationships and push forward Social Innovation in Australia as a whole. Creating a additional bureaucratic layer is the last thing on the mind of any of the organisations I have listed and can can imagine some very interesting conversations if this was to happen.”
Thanks Brodie. Any info on Social Enterprise in Qld, NT or Tas?