Social Innovation Research Groups

Social Innovation Research Groups


Many organisations, institutes and departments around the world have now been established to research the concept of social innovation. Although there is a real diversity of research activities that go under the umbrella term of ‘social innovation’, we wanted develop a list of the groups we’re currently aware of that have been set up with this explicit focus.

What follows is a first attempting at collating such a list – please get in touch if you know of others we have missed.  

Social Innovation Generation, Canada

A collaborative partnership of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, MaRS Discovery District, SiG West and the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) in Canada.

Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience, Canada 

The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) was founded as a joint venture between the University of Waterloo¹s Faculty of Environment and Faculty of Arts. WISIR in an outcome of the Social Innovation Generation project at the University of Waterloo (SiG@Waterloo), part of a national initiative focused on advancing understanding of and perpetuating social innovation. Through collaborative research projects that bridge UW¹s faculties, join together researchers at different universities, and work beyond the university community, WISIR is committed to generating new inter-disciplinary knowledge about social innovations and the social innovation process (the dynamics of learning, adaptation and resilience) in Canada and internationally.

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Oxford, UK

The Skoll Centre is a leading academic entity for the advancement of social entrepreneurship worldwide.  They foster innovative social transformation through education, research, and collaboration. They generate research that contributes to the theory of social entrepreneurship and its practical applications to address critical global challenges, whilst developing and supporting a network of academics and practitioners to disseminate this knowledge globally.

Social Innovation Research Group Taiwan

The Social Innovation Research Group (SIRG) is a Taiwan based think tank studying how and why social innovation entities succeed or fail. To understand the trajectory of social innovation, they are interviewing organizations, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders to develop a series of social innovation case studies. They will then analyze these studies to identify common factors influencing achievement and which models of innovation work in particular contexts.

Stanford Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society, USA

The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) develops and shares knowledge to improve philanthropy, strengthen civil society and effect social change. They bring together Stanford faculty, visiting scholars, postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and nonprofit and foundation practitioners. As publisher of Stanford Social Innovation Review, they inform policy and social innovation, philanthropic investment and nonprofit practice

Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna, Austria

ZSI is an independent institution, acting globally by deployment of innovative research, education, advisory services and co-ordination of networks, to support socially appreciated forms of innovations, develop, research and disseminate social innovations and analyse, promote and evaluate scientific collaboration.

Lien Centre for Social Innovation

The Lien Centre for Social Innovation, a partnership between the Lien Foundation and Singapore Management University (SMU), was established to inspire ideas and innovations, foster new alliances and facilitate solutions to strengthen the non-profit sector. The viaion of the Centre is to be a thought leader and catalyst for positive social change in Singapore and beyond.

Centre de Recherche Sur les Innovations Sociales, Quebec, Canada

The Centre for Research on Social Innovations (CRISES) is an inter-university and multidisciplinary organization comprising sixty researchers affiliated mainly to eight institutions, namely the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO), Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke, Concordia University, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Montreal (HEC Montreal), the University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.

From diverse disciplinary backgrounds (anthropology, geography, history, mathematics, philosophy, industrial relations, management science, economics, political science, sociology and social work), members of CRISES study and analyze innovations and social change from three complementary areas: development and territory, quality of life and labor and employment.

Institut für Soziale Innovation, Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Germany

The steering committee of the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg founded the “Institute for Social Innovation (ISI)” as a central scientific institution in June 2012. Under the direction of Prof. Dr. Christoph Zacharias it deals with the economic and political aspects of social responsibility. It also undertakes research to solve social problems in the areas of social innovation, social entrepreneurship, social business and CSR.

Centrum für Soziale Investionen und Innovationen, Heidelburg University, Germany

The Centre for Social Investment is a central academic institution of the University of Heidelberg, which cooperates with the social and economic sciences faculty, the Faculty of Law and the scientific institute of the University of Heidelberg and the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim. The mission of the CSI is to expand through research, education, networking and consulting our understanding of social investment in theoretical and practical terms.

Dasra, India

Dasra is India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation working with philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to create large scale social change. Dasra has several initiatives to help both philanthropists and social entrepreneurs at various levels in their journey towards bringing about social change. Dasra brings together Knowledge, Funding and People to help philanthropists and social entrepreneurs create maximum impact.

Sinnergiak Social Innovation , Basque Country

SINNERGIAK is a Social Innovation Centre, set up in order to foster synergies between people and organizations both regionally and internationally, to carry out projects and experiments in social innovation  in the Basque Country. Sinnergiak is promoted by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and created under the Euskampus Foundation. Sinnergiak´s work focuses in three areas: Knowledge (research), action (experimentation), networking and dissemination.

Tilburg Social Innovation Lab. Netherlands

In the Tilburg Social Innovation Lab (TiSIL), four institutions for Higher Education (Tilburg University, Avans University of Applied Sciences, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Breda University of Applied Sciences) join forces to make a visible contribution to the development of the region Brabant (Tilburg and surroundings) as the Region for Social Innovation. TiSIL wants to bring about positive societal change and economic activity by supporting innovative ideas, methods and people. TiSIL as such can be considered a laboratory (more a ‘do tank’ than a ‘think tank’), in which ideas, methods and innovations are generated and tested according to the Social Innovation process, and where various stakeholders within the field of Social Innovation are brought together.

Social Innovation Network, University of Wollongong, Australia

The Social Innovation Network (SInet) brings together researchers from many discipline to investigate the development of new concepts, strategies and tools that empower individuals, communities, profit and non-profit organisations and the government to improve quality of life where quality of life means material standard of living as well as personal well-being in terms of health and environment and social harmony.