Sumaya Bernier, University of Calgary
June 30, 2022
Prairies Canada invests $2.65M in Social Innovation Hub focused on launching and scaling innovation
The Social Innovation Hub (SIH) is the next step toward building a collaborative ecosystem that drives a more inclusive, resilient, and equitable Alberta. Operated by Innovate Calgary, the hub will catalyze UCalgary’s social innovation ecosystem by bringing together community stakeholders, researchers, and innovators to drive new solutions to our most complex societal challenges. Prairies Canada has invested $2.65 million to support Calgary’s social economy in making the hub a reality.
- Photo above: From left, Monica Parschiv, graduate/client of NPower; Diana Frost, Colouring It Forward (client of the Social Innovation Hub); Daniel Vandal, minister for PrairiesCan; Lisa Moon, regional director, Alberta, NPower; George Chahal, MP, Calgary Skyview; Danielle Rutkowski, project manager, Meticulon; Jeremy Nixon, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Alberta Community and Social Services for Civil Society; Penny Pexman, associate vice-president (research), University of Calgary
“Complex social challenges require sustainable, community-serving solutions. Today’s federal investment through PrairiesCan will help establish the Social Innovation Hub, an inclusive space for researchers and community partners to collaborate and establish mutually beneficial partnerships,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research).
“By bringing evidence-informed solutions and enterprising models together, the SIH will launch and scale innovation, and move the needle on our most pressing social challenges.”
Making an impact with and for community
The Social Innovation Hub aims to foster social innovation and social startup development by focusing on relationships, co-creation, and leveraging diverse groups’ expertise, experience, and input. Working closely with innovation partners on campus, the SIH will serve students, researchers, social purpose organizations, and entrepreneurs as a place where ideas collide into action.
The SIH will support innovation outcomes that transform research into tangible solutions for our communities. Central to the hub are relationships and people as it works toward a vision of an inclusive Albertan economy for an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders through social entrepreneurship. The SIH will offer support for startup creation, innovator coaching and training, opportunities for students to connect with founders and social purpose organizations, specialized programming, and access to investment capital via UCeed Social Impact.
“This funding will help drive an inclusive economy by expanding support for social entrepreneurs and innovators. How we undertake this work is just as important as to why we do it — social innovation is a journey and a destination. The SIH centres on relationships and collaboration to drive innovative solutions, leveraging partners' strengths to be greater than the sum of our parts. With support from stakeholders like PrairiesCan, we are making that vision a reality,” says Jordana Armstrong, director, Social Innovation Hub.
A step toward diversifying Alberta’s economy
The SIH is an exciting next step in re-envisioning the University Research Park as a dedicated and recognized space for transformative innovation. The SIH joins the Life Sciences Innovation Hub as a driving force in diversifying Alberta’s economy while promoting transdisciplinary research that positions Calgary and Alberta as destinations for people to live, work, play and invest.
“The University Innovation Quarter will be a destination where people from different sectors with diverse backgrounds and interests come together with the shared goal of translating revolutionary research and ideas into meaningful change. This vision will re-establish UCalgary as Canada’s top entrepreneurial university and Innovate Calgary as a central support for researchers, startups, students and community, as we work together to shape Calgary’s social and economic economy,” says John Wilson, CEO and president, Innovate Calgary.
Participate in the hub
The Social Innovation Hub will launch in October as part of UCalgary’s Social Innovation Week. In preparation, the social innovation team welcomes conversations about collaboration opportunities, the hub’s offerings, and ways to reduce barriers to launch and grow a social enterprise/innovation. Connect with the team.
The University of Calgary’s multidisciplinary approach to Social Innovation mobilizes knowledge that creates positive social change. With community collaboration and a robust ecosystem including the Social Innovation Hub, the Social Innovation Initiative, Knowledge Engagement, Trico Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Centre, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, and others, our social innovators and entrepreneurs are transforming solutions for social good.
Innovate Calgary is the innovation transfer and business incubator centre for the University of Calgary. As part of the Office of the Vice-President (Research) portfolio and as a member of the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, we work closely with researchers, faculty, and students to help bridge the gap between discovery and creating economic and societal impact. We do this by going beyond traditional technology transfer services to include focused startup support programs and services for research-intensive companies.