Alberta’s Social Innovation Potential Amplified with New $1-billion Fund

Alberta’s Social Innovation Potential Amplified with New $1-billion Fund

Social Innovation Endowment is the largest social innovation fund in Canada

In a presentation last fall former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin highlighted the possibilities he sees in Alberta to be a leader in social innovation. Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter painted a similar picture of opportunity in a recent presentation in Calgary. Now there’s even stronger reason for their aspirational “forecasting” to be actualized, thanks to a new endowment fund designed to fuel social innovation, says Daniel Overall.

The Social Innovation Endowment, announced last week, is a $1 billion fund, with $500 million to be added on April 1 and another $500 million next spring.
    
Funds will be used for social innovation research, design and testing, including the exploration of social impact bonds.

 
  Daniel Overall

Daniel is director of collaboration and innovation with Trico Charitable Foundation, which has a mission to provoke innovation and build capacity in social entrepreneurship.

With this fund, the Alberta government has shown a front and centre commitment to social innovation, not only philosophically but financially, which shows genuine leadership in Canada, he says, pointing out this is the largest social innovation fund in the country.

Alberta’s corporate community, driven by oil and gas, is already making “huge strides” in social innovation on its own, he says. “If we can combine the advances within the general social sector to the incredible strides that our corporate sector is making, that could be really powerful. That’s why I say that the sky is the limit. There is a lot of potential here.”

It’s imperative that the fund not be considered or leveraged as a competitive advantage for anyone, Daniel adds.

“I do not think that there is any place for competitive advantage when it comes to social innovation, so hopefully any insights that Alberta gains in overseeing the Social Innovation Fund will be shared with the world and certainly in a Canadian context with the rest of the provinces and the federal government.”

A number of key components Daniel would like to see developed over the next year that could help significantly in strengthening the province’s social innovation and social enterprise ecology include a social enterprise advisory group and a social enterprise strategy. He would also like to see the beginnings of, and ongoing, collaboration between technological, business and social innovation, as well as the Alberta effort connected to both a provincial and federal government framework and a non-government framework, such as Enterprising Non-profits Canada.

The Trico Charitable Foundation will and can be involved in actualizing these and other intents, he says.

“Coming out of the Social Enterprise World Forum 2013, the Trico Foundation has taken more of an ecosystem approach to building social enterprise, so we’ll be working on that, a lot of which involves considerable partnerships,” he says.

“But in addition to that, we’re more than happy to help the government of Alberta in any way it sees fit to help advance its social innovation agenda.”

To learn more about the fund, click here.

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A version of this article was originally written for the Enterprising Non-profits Canada news service. This repost, for which we received permission, follows the style guidelines of the original post. To learn more about generative newsroom options for your organization or community, please contact peter(at)axiomnews.ca.

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