Canada and the United Kingdom commit to social innovation / Le Canada et le Royaume-Uni s’engagent dans l’innovation sociale

Canada and UK have made a commitment to social innovation for the first time. David Phipps (RIR-York) had a small part to play.

Le Canada et le Royaume-Uni ont pris un engagement pour l’innovation sociale pour la première fois. David Phipps (RIR-York) avait un petit rôle à jouer.

In September 2011 David Cameron , Prime Minister of Great Britain met with Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. They discussed many matters including international diplomacy, national security, the economy and innovation. Speaking to the House of Commons on September 22, 2012 David Cameron said of Canada, “yours is a home of innovation and technology”. During their meeting they decided to build on these mutual interests of science and innovation by committing to the drafting a Joint Innovation Statement.

David Phipps (RIR-York) was in the UK for 2 weeks of meetings on knowledge mobilization and social innovation starting November 26, 2011. At that time I wrote in Mobilize This! about my meetings with Centre for Research in Families & Relationships (University of Edinburgh) and with Community University Partnership Program (University of Brighton). What I didn’t write about at the time was about my meetings with agencies interested in social innovation. I met with the Young Foundation, a global leader in social innovation, and with NESTA, “the UK’s innovation foundation”. Caroline Martin, Trade Commissioner for science & technology of the Canadian High Commission in London, was immensely helpful in setting up and accompanying me to those meetings. We discussed the importance of social innovation to Canada and the UK, a conversation we have since continued with Nicole Arbour, Team Lead for the Science & Innovation Network of the British High Commission in Ottawa. Together we explored opportunities for collaboration on social innovation with Canadian organizations such as Social Innovation Generation and the McConnell Family Foundation whose leadership of social innovation in Canada parallels that of NESTA and the Young Foundation in the UK.

At the same time Caroline and Nicole were helping their colleagues draft the Joint Innovation Statement called for by Prime Ministers Harper and Cameron. Recognizing the mutual interests of Canada and the UK in social innovation, our conversations helped inform the decision to include social innovation in the text of the Joint Innovation Statement.

As reported by the British High Commission on May 9, 2012 the Joint Innovation statement was signed by the Honourable Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Lord Green, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment. The text of the Joint Innovation Statement includes a commitment to support social innovation:

The Participants will consider to take joint initiatives in the following priority areas (including) Social innovation: Working with academic, government, and civil society partners to leverage research and innovation activities for greater societal benefits.”

“Social Innovation is one outcome of knowledge mobilization for which York has developed an international reputation,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “New discoveries are being made to address persistent social challenges through social innovation. Our conversations with the British and Canadian High Commissions helped inform the decision to include social innovation in the text of the Joint Innovation statement. The outcome reflects the growing international appreciation of the work of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and its leadership role in ResearchImpact, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network, in working to turn research into action.”

This joint, diplomatic commitment to social innovation between Canada and the UK finds another home in David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. On February 17, 2012 he wrote of knowledge diplomacy in the Globe & Mail asking, “So how do we bring about a smart and caring world that is at once prosperous, sustainable and resilient? Our ability to work together – to practise the diplomacy of knowledge – will be the key to our success.” As announced on May 3, 2012 by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS, organizers of Congress 2012), His Excellency will lead a “discussion of cross-sector collaboration and social innovation at Congress 2012 (that) will encourage students, researchers, employees and citizens alike, as we strive for greater prosperity and quality of life for all.” In their May 3 announcement CFHSS also recognized the work of York University, on behalf of RIR in the Community-Campus Collaboration Initiative.

Collaborating for social innovation is now recognized as a priority for Canada and for the UK. RIR-York was there and will be there working with colleagues from Canada and the UK to support knowledge mobilization as a process that enables enhanced social innovation.

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