2011 York KMb Expo – Putting the Social In Innovation / L’Expo MdC 2011 de York – Mettre le social dans l’innovation

By Michael Johnny (RIR-York)

On June 15, York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit hosted its 5th Annual KMb Expo. Social Innovation was the central theme for the day, linking knowledge mobilization as a process that leads to social innovation.

Le 15 juin, l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) de York a été l’hôte de la 5e édition de l’Expo MdC. L’innovation sociale en était le thème central. On y a en effet expliqué de quelle façon la mobilisation des connaissances, en tant que processus, menait à l’innovation sociale.

For five years York’s KMb Unit has been creating relationships between York University and agencies in York Region and beyond. The outcomes of these relationships are social innovations that create new solutions to persistent social challenges. KMb Expo 2011 focused on these social innovations, which are the outcomes of the knowledge mobilization process. KMb Expo 2011 also looked to create the vision of how we can collaborate on a system of social innovation in York Region.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, approximately 100 university researchers, community leaders, community-based researchers, and government policy professionals gathered at the Markham Convergence Centre for networking, speakers, and workshops designed to introduce and inform people about the KMb Unit’s support of a broader social innovation agenda for York Region. There were five main components to the agenda:

  1. Emerging Opportunities for Ontario’s Community Sector: Newmarket Councillor and Co-Chair of York Region’s Human Services Planning Board, John Taylor, introduced York Region’s ‘Making Ends Meet’ report, aimed to introduce residents to the Region’s priority items and blueprint for action to address human service priority issues. Among the notable points was a direct call to York University to partner to leverage its research capacity to help address the priority area of poverty reduction for York Region.
  2. How University-Community Collaboration Produces Social Benefits: Two case studies were presented by community organization leaders, Valerie Ryan, CEO of Nottawasaga Futures, and Janice Chu, Director of Community Investments for the United Way of York Region. Each study highlighted KMb Unit involvement as a catalyst to support action-oriented change within their respective organizations.
  3. Lunch Keynote: Stan Shapson and Daniele Zanotti spoke of the importance of social innovation for York Region and York University. Daniele announced Change Inc. as an incubator to promote and develop social innovation within York Region.
  4. Networking Break: All attendees visited 8 exhibitor booths and had their Passport to Collaboration stamped with a chance to win a fabulous prize. The opportunity to network remains one of the most sought after goals by attendees of our Expos.
  5. Optional Capacity Building Sessions: Attendees could opt in to attend one of the following sessions: Research 101, KMb 101, or Social Media 101. The opportunity to utilize KMb as a platform to build capacity for our community partners to engage in research and knowledge-based collaborations is an emerging priority.

The outcomes from the day were positive, with a high response of satisfaction with the agenda items.  The positive feedback for the Passport to Collabortion as an innovative networking solution was notable, as was the chance for people to hear actual stories of social innovation. Of course, we listen to all feedback and respect the desire people had for more interaction; our Expo is merely an introduction to dialogue on certain issues and topics.

Be sure to continue to follow our blog for news of new activities in the Fall and Winter months as well as for ongoing opportunities to engage with researchers, government, and community leaders on topics and priorities that are important to you. But you’re more than welcome to contact the KMb Unit directly to discuss any research or knowledge-based needs you may have. We’re a very social group here and happy to assist you!

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