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ACSI learnings 2019_eng

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Learnings from the Accelerating Change for Social Inclusion (CASI) project

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ACSI learnings 2019_eng

  1. 1. 7 learnings to improve similar processes October 2019
  2. 2. ACSI started from the idea that social innovation processes aimed at improving people’s life can be accelerated by identifying evidence-based innovations, and sharing the knowledge in order to inspire social innovation agents towards local adaptation and implementation. Implementation May 2016 – July 2019 UpSocial has developed the methodology, coordinated the process, conducted the research, and supported the agents involved to explore the adaptation. Participant cities Collaborator The project Accelerating Change for Social Inclusion (ACSI) 2 Funders
  3. 3. Learnings 3 How to better catalyse existing solutions into local implementations? Adapting existing innovations is more efficient than designing new responses to social challenges from scratch Cities and organisations are constantly experimenting with new approaches to solve pressing social needs. Instead of starting from scratch, the experience of supporting social-innovations transference confirms the power of adapting and adopting evidence-based models to tackle social challenges. Transference processes require intensive analysis and adaptation efforts but save time and dedication by avoiding ‘reinventing the wheel’. However, the ability to learn from existing, proven innovations is not the only condition needed to catalyse innovations within a local ecosystem. Cities need to activate their local ecosystems in order to boost innovation capacity Local stakeholders still face multiple barriers when adapting and adopting existing social innovations: lack of time, funding, human resources, political changes and organisational inertia, among others. In order to mitigate these factors, a wider spectrum of committed local stakeholders should be involved in the process from the very beginning in order to leverage their knowledge and innovation capacity. Cities can act as a unique ecosystem activator. This role would require a strong initial leadership, proactivity and a great use of convening power to engage key, committed stakeholders in a joint effort to tackle common social challenges. This entails going beyond the role of facilitators in order to help other players take the lead in the adaptation and implementation, i.e. prioritising challenges and innovations, facilitating meetings, making connections, organising events and providing different types of in-kind support to the different projects. Moreover, making a small initial economic contribution to the implementation of the selected initiatives might help legitimise projects and encourage co-financing.
  4. 4. Learnings 4 How to better catalyse existing solutions into local implementations? Alignment of expectations and a clear role definition within a continuous process The engagement at early stage of a variety of key actors from different sectors increases the chances of a successful implementation. Consequently, all the potential needed roles (such as funders, implementers, facilitators, disseminators or referrers) should be distinctly identified and engaged since the beginning in order to avoid confusion as to expectations. With this purpose, engagement could be articulated in a working group with the initial objective of defining an agenda and a set of shared goals. This would allow a deeper diagnosis of the local needs and would guide the following steps, in which new relevant actors would be invited to engage in a continuous way. Two essential ingredients are needed to turn matches into implementations: leadership and commitment. In order to achieve this, players not only should participate with the ambition to facilitate adaptation and first steps, but also to implement innovative solutions. For this reason, they should be engaged in the process since the very beginning. Opening up the challenge definition to a variety of stakeholders would lead to the identification of levers of change related to the drivers that mobilise them. This requires for highly specific challenges. The broader they are, the more generalist are the agents convened at the beginning. Under these circumstances, by the time innovations are supposed to be implemented, key players might not be in place and would have to join the process later, hindering their sense of ownership. This emphasis on early, long-term involvement also aims to foster commitment among a variety of local stakeholders. Having them on board in all the project’s phases might help create a sense of ownership and enabling exploring local implementation of innovations that are more aligned with their organisations’ scope of action, interests and strategic priorities. Presumably, this would enhance their interest in achieving good results and, in turn, increase implementation chances. From matching to ownership Matching an innovative solution with a group of capable, interested local players that include all the profiles needed for implementation is not enough to overcome the initial barriers to adaptation.
  5. 5. Learnings 5 How to better catalyse existing solutions into local implementations? Standarised information and transfer model systematisation Standarised information of an innovation becomes a powerful tool to evaluate it potential impact on a different context, facilitating better decision-making. It also encourages innovators to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their models, which acts as a driver for the systematisation of existing knowledge, the articulation of transference models and the activation of impact measurement strategies. Recognising these issues and integrating tools for analysis hopefully will result in clearer, stronger value and service proposals that will encourage local counterparts to implement the selected innovations. Social innovation takes time Transformation processes cannot be cooked using a microwave oven: long simmering is needed. Various reasons for this long-term approach to social innovation are on the demand side: different actors need to be aligned, have a shared understanding of the challenge, common agendas have to be built, as well as trust, commitment and capacity. Other reasons can be found on the offer side, as not all the innovators have developed mature approaches to scalability. Most of the models have been proved in their original context, but present different degrees of experience and success in terms of transference. Thus, identifying and consolidating sustainable scaling models is still a challenge for many innovators . Knowledge systematisation and exchange Transferring social innovations to accelerate social change cannot be delinked from knowledge generation. The process itself becomes a very valuable and demanded source of learning, inspiration and exchange for all actors involved. Activities organised all along the processes often work as meeting platforms or networking spaces in which traditional players, but also very different stakeholders that are not used to working together, find opportunities to interact. These are, in the end, ways of strengthening local, national, and international social innovation ecosystems.
  6. 6. UpSocial 6 Solving social challenges through innovation Social Unemployment, early-school abandonment, child poverty or the transition towards more environmentally-friendly cities are some of the challenges driving our action towards more effective responses. UpSocial measures its success by evaluating the social outcomes generated by the innovations it seeks to adapt, adopt and scale. Effective, sustainable and scalable This is why UpSocial concentrates its energy in finding and designing innovations that have strong evidence of impact. These solutions should also be sustainable, capable of generating sufficient value and income to implement them. Finally, we demand innovations to respond to the whole dimension of the need. In other words, they should be able to scale up and inspire a solution to the challenge in its entire dimension. Innovation With increasing social needs and inequalities, and with decreasing resources to respond to them, it is imperative to find more efficient, effective, fair and sustainable solutions. Then, the challenge is to take them to scale. UpSocial focuses precisely on fostering innovation by researching worldwide the best social innovations and helping them to scale and to be implemented in different locations. Multidisciplinary and international team With this vision, a group of social entrepreneurs with a long trajectory created UpSocial in 2010. The team, together with a network of well-selected specialists, allows UpSocial to create efficient teams around each project and initiative.
  7. 7. Accelerating Change for Social Inclusion(ACSI) Learnings October 2019 @UpSocialBCN