Futures of Social Innovation Hubs with Tonya Surman, Alex Ryan

Friday, March 23, 2018 - 17:30 to 18:30
205 Richmond Street West, Room 420
Community members: 

Social innovation hubs: Where do we go from here? 

The promise of social innovation hubs is to bring together diverse people and stakeholders to create new solutions for shared, complex social problems. Practitioners, industry leaders, government, and community organizations across the Greater Toronto Area are increasingly working towards a common outcome—a flourishing society where people and the planet are valued alongside economic development.

Inherent in this promise are some critical, unanswered questions around policy structures, power dynamics, sustainable funding, and meaningful impact measurement frameworks. Moreover, we are still searching for effective business models for both individual social innovation initiatives, and the facilities that are meant to incubate innovation, enable multi-stakeholder collaboration, and convene intersectional dialogue.

Who is positioned and invited to participate in social innovation hubs? Who’s missing from the conversation? What might the social innovation ecosystem look like in 5 or 10 years from today? What’s our preferred future state?

Futures of Social Innovation research group at sLab invites you to our first in a series of participatory events on this topic.

What You’ll Gain

This panel will discuss the current state of social innovation hubs, future possibilities for promoting social innovation, and what strategies we might develop to adjust to an ever-changing landscape.

  • Hear from practitioners and thought leaders in this emerging innovation space

  • Meet community leaders, entrepreneurs, students, experts, and policy makers

  • Make new connections and help uncover the emergent strategies for the futures of social innovation

  • Receive open source material on the future of social innovation hubs generated during the 2-hour workshop

Who Should Participate

Change-makers from all walks of life and life experience are welcome to participate:

  • Policy makers developing programs with and for citizens

  • Practitioners consulting with and executing strategies for social impact and environmental sustainability

  • Industry partners who are focused on the triple-bottom-line outcomes that ensure better businesses for society and the planet

  • Academic researchers exploring what social innovation is and what it could be in the future

  • Students learning the tools and methods to become the next wave of social entrepreneurs and social innovators

A 1-hour panel discussion will be followed by a 2-hour foresight workshop to envision the future state of social innovation hubs in the GTA.

Panel Speakers

  • Alex Ryan, VP, Systems Innovation, and Program Director, MaRS Solutions Lab.

  • Tonya Surman, Founding CEO, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

  • Safiah Chowdhury, Policy Development Officer, City of Toronto.

The panel will be moderated by Kelsey Spitz, Senior Associate at Social Innovation Generation (SiG).

Event Details

Note that there are two parts to this event:

  • Part 1 is a 1-hour panel discussion with people who have expertise and experiences in social innovation.

    • Please select the “Panel only” ticket type to attend the panel discussion. We have room for up to 50 participants for the panel discussion.

    • Note that for this ticket type, there is a $20 fully refundable credit card deposit, which will be returned within four days of the event with your confirmed participation. This deposit is to avoid no-shows.

  • Part 2 is a 2-hour workshop to begin formulating strategies for the futures of social innovation hubs in Toronto. Seats are limited for the workshop in order to facilitate a meaningful, rich discussion. We hope to include up to 25 participants for the workshop.

    • Please select the “Panel AND workshop” ticket type to reserve your seat for both the panel and workshop.

    • Note that there is a $20 non-refundable fee for the workshop, which covers the cost of providing refreshments for the workshop.

If you purchase either ticket type and are no longer able to participate, please let us know by 11am on March 22 so we can free up your ticket for other participants, and to avoid a non-refundable $20 ticket fee.


Part 1: Panel Discussion

  • 5:00 PM: Doors open; registration and sign-in

  • 5:30 PM: Welcome and Introduction to moderator and Panel Members

  • 5:35 PM: Panel discussion begin

  • 6:25 PM: Panel wraps up; workshop participants are directed to workshop tables

Part 2: Workshop

  • 6:30 PM: Workshop begins

  • Using Sharp, Hodgson & Curry’s Three Horizons method, participants will identify strategies to work towards a desired future state for social innovation hubs in the GTA.

  • The method begins with envisioning the preferred future state (3rd Horizon); this is followed by identifying “pockets of the future” and the trajectory of the current assumptions/paradigms that exist in the present (1st Horizon); finally, it concludes with brainstorming strategies and experiments in the interim (2nd Horizon) that can pave the way for a desired future state.

  • 8:30 PM: Workshop wraps up; outputs from the workshop will be synthesized and shared with participants and panel attendees after the event.

Futures of Social Innovation (FSI) is a research group in Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) at OCAD University. Its mission is to effectively integrate design, strategic foresight, business model innovation, and strategic impact into the social innovation space. FSI convenes and facilitates stakeholder dialogue and collaboration across various sectors and industries, with the objective of catalyzing change in the social innovation ecosystem. We promote a holistic understanding of the issues, and a coherent application of advanced methods and tools for systemic change.


Photography/Videography Taken During Event (Panel and Workshop)

This event will be documented through photographs and video. These images may be used by the University for promotional, advertising, and educational purposes. By participating in our events, both on campus and off-site, you consent to allowing OCAD University and the Futures of Social Innovation research group to document and use your image and likeness. If you do not want us to use a photo or video of you, please don’t hesitate to let us know when you arrive at the event.

Data Collection (Workshop Only)

The information generated in the workshop will be analyzed, synthesized, and shared widely under Chatham House Rules. Workshop participants will be asked to sign a consent form before participating in the workshop (to be provided upon the purchase of a ticket).