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CSI and Impact Hub Ottawa praise new Innovation Ministry and recommend ‘Social Innovation’ as part of portfolio



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet includes a Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Mississauga-Malton MP Navdeep Bains.

That transformation is timely as Canada’s national innovation ecosystem is also in transformation. The ecosystem has been highly siloed around STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) and business innovation with a more nascent, but fast-growing arena developing around social innovation – the creation, development, adoption, and integration of new concepts, ventures and practices that attempt to solve social and environmental problems.

“Canada’s social innovation sector, which includes social entrepreneurship, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. It is an integral part of our innovation future. Our 2nd Impact + Failure Report, to be released on November 26th, offers a glimpse into how social innovation is thriving in Ottawa. I am excited by how this new ministry can support this emerging sector to make Canada the best country to start and grow social enterprises.” said Vinod Rajasekaran, Co-Founder and Lead Strategist of Impact Hub Ottawa.

Canadians need a comprehensive innovation ecosystem that acknowledges that social innovation will both create opportunities and solve problems. As important as STEM and business innovation are, our modern challenges – ranging from preventable chronic disease to climate change to poverty alleviation to community finance – require solutions taking advantage of a combined innovation DNA, including social innovation.

“The challenges that Canada faces are often complex and interconnected. They require new solutions and business models that put people and the planet first. The good news is that with these challenges come great opportunities to create new jobs, develop new technologies, and create new markets all while addressing important social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges.” said Tonya Surman, Co-Founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation based in Toronto and New York City.

It is estimated that 17% of Canada’s GDP, or $338 billion is spent on social outcomes. “By linking social innovation to the existing science and economic innovation system, OECD countries can dramatically enhance the power of innovation to tackle the grand challenges they face such as escalating health expenses (whose cost curve is bendable through behavioural changes triggered by social innovations), aging costs, recidivism and youth at risk.” said Tim Draimin, Executive Director of Social Innovation Generation.

We can miss out on opportunities by not having a more inclusive national innovation approach, capable of producing robust social outcomes. Both Ms. Surman and Mr. Rajasekaran said that they would welcome the opportunity to meet with the new minister, to discuss the potential behind unlocking Canada’s dynamic social sector’s experience, vision and energy by including social innovation as part of the ministry’s portfolio.


About Impact Hub Ottawa:

Impact Hub is Ottawa’s leading coworking community, learning academy, and incubator for people, projects and organizations bettering the world. Currently supporting more than 350 changemakers from diverse sectors, tackling problems in 40+ fields – from urban agriculture and education to international development and green energy. Part of the world’s fastest growing social innovation network of 70+ Impact Hubs worldwide. Since the first Impact Hub opened in London, UK in 2005, the global network has catalyzed and helped grow close to 2,500 social ventures around the world. In 2014 alone, the network grew over 400 social enterprises; helped create over 4,600 new full-time jobs, and helped member social enterprises generate $150 million in new revenue. In Ottawa, impact is tracked through an industry-leading Impact + Failure Report. Learn more at

About Centre for Social Innovation:

The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) is a pioneer in coworking, a community and a catalyst for people and organizations that are changing the world, with four Toronto locations and one in New York City. The CSI community is home to 1,000 nonprofits, charities and social ventures in Toronto alone, and employs over 2,500 people and generates combined annual revenues of $250 million. CSI members are turning social, environmental, economic and cultural challenges into opportunities to make the world a better place. CSI has partnered across sectors to run programs such as the Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund and its Agents of Change programs. CSI has published multiple books, including one on its innovation in social finance, The Community Bond, which it used to purchase two buildings in downtown Toronto to support social innovation. Learn more at

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