VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 27 May 2010, in Blog

I once caught a snippet on a BBC Scotland radio show where a studio guest was talking about inertia. My mood brightened when I heard that he was actually talking about being “in Ayrshire”. The general point of his opinion however was that a day out of Ayrshire was a day wasted. That opinion had another effect on my mood.

I bring this up because I recently caught another programme that exhorted entrepreneurs to innovate. My understanding of innovation is that it is action oriented in that people have to have a creative idea and then do something about it. So who and where are the Scottish social entrepreneurs who will produce innovative solutions in the realms of health, education, employment, the environment, social inclusion, crime reduction etc.

I think we should have a Social Innovation Summit. Investment prizes, coaching and mentoring prizes, funded graduate and student placements and CPD and KTP awards should be made to Scottish social entrepreneurs who can come up with the best, scaleable and replicable innovations in a series of categories that reflect our varied social missions. The key for me is that this should be intellectually robust and challenging and that different technologies should have a major role to play. Small thinkers and the unambitious need not apply.

If you fancy this idea, let’s start by building up momentum for this through an internet conversation and campaign – your own networks and intermediary/trade organisations would be good places to start. The Coalition could facilitate this debate through its website so that by October a meeting of interested parties could be arranged to see if anyone is interested in funding, judging and entering.

Just think, the Summit could lead to the formation of a Scottish Social Innovation Centre. This could be a more than profit business, tasked with the mission of bringing together inventors, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, mavericks and investors to test ideas, make deals and bring products and services to market.

My suggestion to get the creative juices flowing is that we should ask folk 3 questions:

  • What is the greatest innovation of the last 3 years?
  • What was the greatest innovation of the 20th Century?
  • What is the greatest problem facing Scotland over the next 3 years?

Hopefully, people might sit in their equivalent of the garden shed (on their own or with chums) and come up with answers and great ideas for future world class solutions.

Or we could sit, inert, and ponder the ways of the world beyond the borders of Ayrshire, Brigadoon and Scotland. One thing for sure is that if we don’t innovate, others will.  Now how will that impact on our futures?