700 people sharing a passion for social innovation at SI Summit
For the fourth consecutive year, the Social Innovation Summit has taken place in Malmö, Sweden, gathering people from all sectors who share a passion for social innovation. SE Forum attended the two day conference and took part in a session hosted by Vinnova to present our upcoming project to strengthen the Swedish ecosystem for social entrepreneurship.
700 people gathered at Nöjesteatern in central Malmö this week and it was inspiring to see such a wide range of delegates, all with different perspectives on social innovation and entrepreneurship. It resulted in great conversations around the theme of the conference – Making it big – and what needs to be done to get there.
The first day kicked off with Jeroo Billimoria, a serial social entrepreneur with amazing energy and will-power. She highlighted three things for any entrepreneur to consider before embarking on the entrepreneurial journey: start-up, scale-up, and succession. She’s a believer in doing your research before getting too far, which means that you should consider all aspects of your business before getting started, even the aspect of you stepping down (as she’s also a believer in forgetting about your ego).
Making it big
In addition to concrete tips for entrepreneurs, through various sessions, there was also a strong focus on the bigger questions, in line with the theme of the conference. Second keynote, Joeri van den Steenhoven (Yink Systems Change), argued that in order to make it big, we, as a sector, need to grow up. We need to think more of ourselves, but we also need a new narrative, to get a wider public onboard our journey, as he argues we’re potentially staying too much in our own bubble instead of reaching those who feel threatened by change.
Another keynote speaker, Indy Johar (Zero Zero), pushed for big thinking for real systems change. He argued that, when we talk about social innovation, we need to be talking about the huge scale of the challenge that’s facing our society and planet. That we need to start dreaming bigger and start being more bold, because he sees the next 10 years as critical to create change before it’s too late. It may seem bleak, but he argued that in countries like Sweden we’re privileged enough to actually be able to create this change as we have the democratic and political infrastructure to do so.
Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg, also spoke at the conference and requested wider collaborations where all sectors make the most of the social innovation that already exists. Corporate businesses shouldn’t start from scratch trying to figure out how to create social change. Instead, they should learn from and collaborate with the players that are already working in this area.
Final keynote speaker, Robin Teigland (Chalmers University of Technology), also stressed the fact that we already have many of the tools we need. Her inspiring example of Peniche Ocean Watch, showed that the tools and approaches already exist – it’s about thinking holistically and putting them all together to create new business models and new ways of creating social change.
Strengthening the Swedish ecosystem
On the second day of the conference, we also had the opportunity to share our news about our upcoming work to strengthen the ecosystem for social innovation and entrepreneurship in Sweden. As we’re one of 10 projects that have received funding from Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, we took part in Vinnova’s session where the projects were presented. Our Communications Lead Tove Nordström joined others from organisations like Reach for Change and Coompanion Nord and shared a brief presentation of what we’re aiming to do (and you can read more about this here).
We truly enjoyed discussing the growth of socially and environmentally conscious businesses and we’re confident there is positive development ahead. There was a great sense of collaboration at the conference and we’re hoping for many partnerships to flourish going forward.