- Sri Lanka’s pioneering program on social innovation: 21 and 22 March
The British Council recently announced at a press conference that the organisation will be hosting ‘FUTURES – Social Innovation Forum’ on 21 and 22 March, which is part of the organisation’s global development work.
British Council Sri Lanka Country Director Keith Davies said: “The UK has an estimated £ 24 billion social enterprise industry and has come to be regarded as a global leader in this field of social innovation. The British Council supports the development and movement of social enterprise globally. In Sri Lanka, we have been supporting Sri Lankan youth through our programs such as Climate Champions, Global Changemakers, and Active Citizens. FUTURES will be the next evolution in our social development work.”
FUTURES, a pioneering initiative conceptualised by the British Council, is brought to you by Dialog Axiata in partnership Softlogic, Brandix, AMW, and Horizon Campus.
The project brings together the private-sector, public-sector, not-for-profit organisations, community groups and consumers to develop innovative ideas for products, services, business models, and policies that will solve social issues. This concept is known as social innovation.
What is social innovation?
Although the definition varies based on the source, the essence of social innovation is ‘creating new and sustainable solutions that solve social issues at large’. Social issues and environmental issues cannot be spoken in isolation because they’ve become inseparable. Therefore social issues inherently consist of environmental issues. The solutions to these issues can come in many forms. It can be a new product or a service and they may come from for-profit or not-for-profit companies or from partnerships between companies and the Government and even from the communities themselves.
What is FUTURES – Social Innovation Forum?
The FUTURES approach is to involve multiple stakeholders from the private, public, not-for-profit sectors to inspire creativity and innovation by building informed scenarios of the future to address social issues.
The project consists of two key activities. The first was a learning journey to the UK where the partner organisations had the opportunity to meet with a multitude of UK stakeholders in social innovation. The second key activity is a two-day forum which will involve 150 hand-picked participants and will focus on three social issues: Water, Education, and Health. The forum will be held on 21 and 22 March and attendance is by invitation only. The forum is structured to first analyse the social issues from multiple perspectives, build futuristic scenarios, and then to design innovative ideas and solutions.
British Council Head Partnerships and Business Development Eranda Ginige said: “This is not just a two-day event. We expect commitment from the participants to take their ideas forward and the British Council will act as an enabler by developing partnerships and continuing the discussion over the next year.”
The British Council hopes that this initiative will act as a catalyst in developing a new generation of social entrepreneurs, innovative products and services, new business models and policies that will all create a better future.