Open Innovation to Promote Sustainable Development & Social Innovation – ASHOKA

6 08 2007

Earlier this year, Professor Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his groundbreaking company Grameen Bank, an innovative micro-lender promoting economic and social development of the world’s poor. Professor Yunus and many others have embraced open innovation where entrepreneurs apply business principles sustainably using “bottom-up” methods to promote social capitalism and social entrepreneurship to improve opportunities for the less advantaged.

A leader in the field of social entrepreneurialism is Ashoka who “envisions a world where Everyone is a Changemaker: a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges, and where each individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.”

Rather than leaving societal needs for the government or business sectors to address, social entrepreneurs are creating innovative solutions, delivering extraordinary results, and improving the lives of millions of people.

Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka that combines compelling stories to explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world with a global online “open source” community to surface social solutions and engage individuals and organizations to refine, enrich, and implement them.

The heart of Changemakers is its collaborative competitions that periodically issues a core social challenge for its diverse stakeholder audience to consider and prepare a proposal for review by the community and competition judges. This “open sourcing social solutions” model follows a replicable process with clear stages and decision gates. The outcome serves as a platform for building a different kind of practitioner/investor engagement that sparks new waves of innovation around problems stuck using conventional approaches.

Current competitions focus on better healthcare:

Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care: Solutions People Want

Recently closed for judging, this competition attracted 308 submissions from over 27 countries. Some entries received over 40 comments from community members during the submission phase.

Why Games Matter: A Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care

Currently accepting submissions, Changemakers in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is seeking creative solutions that merge computer and video games with health and health care. All competition finalists will go to Baltimore, Maryland, USA in May 2008, to present at the Changemakers Change Summit held in conjunction with the RWJF-sponsored Games for Health Conference.

Here is a video submission from one entry called “Interactive Fitness.”

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