Fueling innovation to ignite higher education

Canada Day at Ashoka Exchange

Rob Mittelman and Zoe MacLeod recently returned from presenting at the Ashoka Exchange Conference in New Orleans, with a stop at Tulane University. The Exchange is the world’s largest convening of social innovators in higher education. Attendees reimagine how colleges and universities can catalyze long term change and social impact. There was a phenomenal turnout of Canadians at this conference (10% of the conference attendees) and significant interest in continuing the conversation around a Pan-Canadian approach to social innovation.

Rob and Zoe’s presentation focused on multi-university collaboration and RRU's involvement in the creation of the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone. This collaborative initiative, part of the McConnell Foundation’s RECODE initiative, spans a number of community and post-secondary partners across Vancouver Island including:

Camosun College
University of Victoria
Royal Roads University
Social Enterprise Catalyst
Community Social Planning Council
Victoria Native Friendship Centre
Vancity Credit Union

The purpose of 'the Zone' is to strengthen collaborative relationships, activities and initiatives of post-secondary institutions, community, economic actors and government in support of enterprising approaches to social innovation on Vancouver Island. We will incubate, accelerate and scale innovation, through social enterprise, social venture, collaborative impact and social finance. The overarching goal is to transform Vancouver Island’s economic and social reality into a regional zone of blended economic value and social equity and opportunities for the creation of a ‘changemaker’ region. So far, activities include:

•Momentum Partner for seCatalyst Gala and Day-of-Leaning event supporting and showcasing the Island’s social enterprise sector.
•Literature Review providing definitions and an overview of social innovation, and developing a social innovation framework.
•Mentor Training for Incubation Centre for Entrepreneurs (ICE)-train professional volunteer mentors on the challenges and opportunities specific to social enterprise start-ups.
•Social Innovation Cohort: pairing co-op students with placements in social enterprises or innovation projects, providing funding for the social enterprise/innovation alongside other post-secondary supports.
•Mapping Vancouver Island’s current social innovations/enterprises, finance vehicles, intermediaries and campus assets on hubcapbc.ca.
•Hosting the first Social Innovation Education Symposium at RRU

If you are interested to know more or would like to be involved, please reach out to your RRU colleagues, Rob Mittelman, Zoe MacLeod, Jaigris Hodson.