Bengt Mattson

Ministry for Enterprise, Energy and Communications arranged a breakfast seminar today on social innovation and entrepreneurship. The seminar is part of ongoing activities within the framework of the development of a Swedish National Innovation Strategy, which is to be presented in 2012.

Håkan Ekengren, State Secretary at the Ministry, welcomed us all and gave a brief introduction on social inovation in general and the connection to the National Innovation Strategy specifically. He stressed the importance of both social innovation and social entrepreneurship, and hoped that the introductory lectures by Eva Engquist (from Malmö University and "Mötesplatsen för Social innovation och samhällsentreprenörskap"), myself, and Lars Jannick Johansen (President and founder of "Den Sociale Kapitalfond" in Denmark), and the following work-shop should result in several good ideas and experiences to bring into the development of the Innovation Strategy.

The panelists of today
The panelists of today

Eva Engquist gave us her insight in the whole area of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. She saw three drivers for the strong focus on social innovation presently:

1. Ongoing financial crises in US and Europe, on the same time as the societal needs and demands upon society probably never have been larger. Ageing populations, unemployment rates, increasing poverty, and environmental problems are just a number of challenges facing societies.

2. Increasing pressure from NGOs, e.g. environmental organizations

3. The Social Media revolution

Some of the areas where Eva told us Malmö Univeristy and "Mötesplatsen" are focusing are perspectives of management and organizational issues of social innovation, but also financing issues and the need for development of new business models.

In my lecture I fully agreed with Eva on the need for development of new business models in order for social innovation to become successful. I gave examples from health care and the pharmaceutical industry, of which you can read more via this links:

- "Prevention of illnesses and creation of wellbeing"
- "Social innovation and social entrepreneurship"
- "4 steps to a sustainable use of pharmaceuticals"
- "CSR - en intregrerad del av affären"

Lars Jannick Johansen described the huge potential he sees in social enterprises and social innovation. Just bear in mind that the social economy is roughly 10% of the total GNP in Europe. That is a large market... He told us that Sweden has a lot to learn from e.g. UK when it comes to "financial innovations" which would help social innovation and entrepreneurship to further develop.

We then divided up into 6 work groups and discussed e.g.:

- what social innovation actually means
- which parties are involved and which ones are not but should be involved
- experiences to be shared
- in which areas we feel that social innovation is of extra importance for Sweden

Some of the common conclusions from the discussions were

- the need for both social innovation and entrepreneurship. The innovation needs a business case in order to be successful
- collaboration between all different parties in society is crucial for success
- areas of extra importance to Sweden include the ageing population and the healthcare sector, environmental matters, youth, and integration.

It was a very good breakfast seminar and I hope this was just a start of a very interesting process!

Bengt Mattson