Simona CavalieriSocial Innovation AROUND is the first International Appointment event of Social Innovation, an organisation which aims to help create the necessary conditions for companies to pursue ideas and ambitions that are socially innovative. The president of Social Innovation Society, Simonetta Cavalieri, tells us more about the organisation and the AROUND event.

Interview with Simonetta Cavalieri

What is the role of Social Innovation Society?
SIS-Social Innovation Society is a conceptual and physical space, a virtual meeting point for research innovation and ‘innovators’. It is a model which supports companies in the paths of social organization and corporate social innovation and assists national and regional organisations and institutions as well, by creating the basis for a database of ideas, solutions or job that is socially innovative and disseminating Italian best practices at a national and international level.”

What’s most interesting to you right now?
“Our constant commitment to maintain consistency between vision and action is to build in each intervention a multidimensional framework, into which flow several time levels – short, medium and long term – but also different points of view – individual, organization, institution. This leads, inevitably, a complexity but also enriched with new meanings and actions that need to be assessed in terms of impact for each of the dimensions considered.”

“Our interest is focused on the development of paths that can contribute to the development of the Social Innovation KPI and the construction of an evaluation model of Value Added Social Innovation. Experience of sharing with others and co-creation through discussion and debate that aims to intercept, detect and analyze the main differences between the non-profit sector, the nonprofit and public sectors. The emphasis is not so much on the ‘what’ to produce but mainly on the ‘how’ to produce, and above all ‘with whom’ and ‘for whom’ produce. So we highlight other concepts that guide us, including sustainability – environmental, economic… – establishing networks, customer participation in the design process of the production.”

In a fluid and friagile economy, like the current one,  is ‘social innovation’ the key to economic growth?
“A first response to the international crisis we are experiencing, is the inclusion of the assessment and measurement of social impact in the activities of companies and major players in the international finance industry. The same systemic crisis that always generates new social needs, that are not addressed in the limited spending power of our states and the financial-economic system of capitalism, as we know, it generates inequalities unsustainable, not only from an ethical point of view, but structural. New models of business organizations supported by new models of finance such as social finance and impact investing could be among the answers to this problem.”

“A sign regarding the level of attention comes also from the results of Impact 2 convention, the forum of the social enterprise and impact investing held in Paris on May 21. Mr. Villeroy de Galhau (BNP Parisbas COO) from banking activities and traditional financial players innovation point of view, will invest € 200 million in social enterprises by 2015, whilst Goldman Sachs and U.S. Venture Capital Association are making their impact investing fund available. Aviva Insurance Group has announced a fund of € 10 million, the expecting returns are around 3 and 4%.”

Can you describe one or several specific examples of social innovation at the grass-roots level and what makes them successful in your view?
“There are few doubts that the Social Economy will be able to transform the way we travel, live, work, play and consume. As the democratisation of content led to the structural disruption in media-related sectors over the past decade, the emerging democratization of goods and services by Social Sharing companies will lead to structural disruption over a much wider range of sectors. The secret to understand this accelerating tectonic shift starts with Social Capital and new business model. Organizations as i.e. Airbnd and Uber have been able to build a thriving ecosystem in just over five years with such significant scale and influence that they are now valued at $10 billion and $12 billion.”

“Airbnb, which has now processes a total of 11 million reservations, creates a compelling accommodation alternative for its guests by offering them a funny way to discover and book unique accommodations with its current base of over 350,000 hosts offering 600.000 home listings in 34,000 cities in 192 countries around the world. And Uber now operates in over 70 cities in 36 countries around the world. These rapidly expanding social sharing companies are directly attacking the incumbent hotel and taxi industries on both the supply and demand side.”

What do you see as the most contentious issue in the field of social innovation? And where do you stand on the issue?
“Our processing, made involving a wide range of subjects even very distant one from another, has allowed us to develop a systemic vision of the Social Change (SIS Framework), in which all the components acting in the society play an active role in the development.”

“The involvement of so many actors has enriched us, but has underlined the most controversy and determinant issue in the Social Innovation environment, that is the need to co-create a common language which overtakes stereotypes, prejudices, concepts and policies already consolidated. For us, this was the first investment in the co-creation and sharing of the base language, the sense and meaning for each member or actor in the network, it has proved a source of strength and is now one of the distinctive assets of SIS part the methodology that we apply in the development of projects and interaction with different groups with the aim to share more and more with other players of social innovation.”

Tell us about Social Innovaton AROUND, the international appointment that you are organizing on 14-15 November in Rome?
“Our experience, work-sharing and co-creation is developed starting from the identification of the connection – the common thread – that unites the various actors and creates the opening to the report. Social Innovation AROUND is the first International Appointment of Social Innovation, which aims to help create the necessary conditions and make it possible, just through language, the transition from the meeting to the project. This required a course of study that led to the final choice of the format that provides specific methods of animation and facilitation, designed to enable a climate of transparency and mutual acceptance, in order to trigger openness, listening, participation, production of ideas, knowledge, experimenting with relationships, even before solutions.”

“SIAround – ideas in the light of the sun – also launches a challenge and/or social revolution ‘to be connected as to be informed’, become involved and aware citizens, able to express their thoughts, having the possibility that others will read it and share it. That is, be recognized as people who, at every level, and in their specific, work to achieve common goals.”

More information
Learn more on Social Innovation Society via their web page: www.soinsociety.org