This country’s first social innovation and social entrepreneurship research centre will officially open at Massey University next Thursday.
The New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre has been founded by socio-economist Professor Anne de Bruin of the School of Economics and Finance with an aim to contribute to social innovation through collaborative research.
Professor de Bruin, who is based on the Albany campus, told the National Business Review figures such as New Zealander of the Year Ray Avery have brought social innovation – the concept which is widely misunderstood – to the forefront of people’s minds.
“We need to understand that innovation is not only about science, technology and business but also about social issues.”
Social innovation is also about community and how its assets can be built, which in turn can help increase regional employment and economic and social development, she said.
“We also want to raise awareness among our students that it’s not all about money and profit; they need to think beyond that and focus attention on the importance of social goals.”
The idea to set up the centre was conceived in the mid-1990s when Professor de Bruin worked in Otara, South Auckland. This is when she became “passionate about community employment creation and community building.”
The idea fully ripened when Professor de Bruin spent four months working with top scholars at the leading entrepreneurship research and teaching institution in the US, Babson College, in Boston, in 2008.
The interdisciplinary research centre, consisting of 12 Massey University academics, plans to carry out a series of case studies on companies to grasp the broader context of success of social entrepreneurship and understand social innovation.
The research will also consider ecopreneurship and green entrepreneurship, sustainability and ethical issues, not-for-profit, community, charity and philanthropic businesses that have an entrepreneurial approach.
The centre's first case study of Wellington Zoo will focus on the various factors that contribute to the success of not-for-profit organisations.
“The zoo is an integral aspect of the Wellington region and innovation and entrepreneurial activity is helping it play a more vibrant role in the community,” Professor de Bruin said.
The paper – Not for Loss: Insights on Building a Community Asset – outlining the study, has been already accepted for presentation at the 7th Annual Satter Conference on Social Entrepreneurship at New York University next month.
It is co-authored by Drs Simona Fabrizi, Louise Lee, Kate Lewis and Steffen Lippert.
Wed, 11 Jul 2018