Organisations with a penchant for social innovation can benefit from a new facility just established in Massey University.
The New Zealand Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Centre based in the Albany Campus of the University is stated to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.
The inter-disciplinary Centre aims to demonstrate the social entrepreneurial spirit of New Zealand based companies and organisations.
Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey officially opened the Centre on October 14 at the Albany Campus, at which an appeal was made for donations to reconstruct Christchurch following last month’s earthquake.
Professor Anne de Bruin of the School of Economics and Finance, who founded the Centre, said that social innovation through collaborative research would be among the primary objectives.
She said social innovation would play an increasingly important role in the future but its concept is not well understood.
“Figures such as New Zealander of the Year Ray Avery have brought social innovation 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,” she said.
Professor de Bruin said social innovation was also about community and building community assets. Growing the community assets helps to create a dynamic community, leading to increased regional employment, economic and social development, she said.
“We also want to raise awareness among our students that it is not all about money and profit; they need to think beyond that and focus attention on the importance of social goals,” she said.
It is understood that researchers at the Centre have been working on a case study of Wellington Zoo, focusing on 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.
She said that organisers of the Seventh Annual Satter Conference on Social Entrepreneurship to be held next month at the New York University have accepted the Centre researchers’ paper on Not for Loss: Insights on Building a Community Asset.
Drs Simona Fabrizi, Louise Lee, Kate Lewis and Steffen Lippert have prepared the paper.
The Centre has planned to carry out case studies to grasp the broader context of success of social entrepreneurship and understand social innovation.
Further research will consider ecopreneurship and green entrepreneurship, sustainability and ethical issues, not-for-profit, community, charity and philanthropic businesses that have an entrepreneurial approach, Professor de Bruin said.
Professor Gaven Martin (College of Science), Professor David Ding (College of Business) and Associate Professor Peter Lineham (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) are among the member of the Board of Governance of the Centre.
Photo : Professor Anne de Bruin