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Social Innovators

Social Innovators

Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying solutions to the most challenging and systemic social and environmental issues. As a strategy for addressing complexity, social innovation is a key ingredient for SDG localization. Social innovators are responsible for creating new solutions to emerging and complex local challenges – with significant potential to advance the SDGs. Working within all sectors, including business, nonprofit, education and government, social innovators bring a deep understanding of local contexts and a passion for changemaking that drives the development of innovative and forward thinking solutions.

Strategies and Actions for Social Innovation

Social innovations recognize that impact can be achieved and scaled through partnerships. By leveraging their problem-solving talents and creativity, these local changemakers can find opportunities to achieve impact through collaboration. In Guelph and London, social innovators like The SEED and Indwell all demonstrate how partnerships for the SDGs can help to find new solutions and scale impact. 

Example: Indwell – Innovation through collaboration for affordable housing in London, Ontario

For Indwell, the largest developer of affordable housing in Ontario, community partnerships are integral to their work. Engaging with local groups and initiatives helps Indwell to achieve their mission of providing housing and a sense of community to those who struggle to find stable housing and other supports. Some examples include a bike-share program for one of their buildings with London Cycle Link, tree planting events with ReForest London and spearheading the Richmond Underpass Community Arts Project. Indwell also works collaboratively with partners across to address the crisis of housing and homelessness. The Vision Soho Alliance is an inspiring collaboration that is getting attention from other cities in Canada and around the world. Convened by London Community Foundation, the Alliance brings together a wide range of developers, advocates and other partners, including Indwell, to realize affordable housing in London through a truly collaborative approach. Through local implementation of SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals, the Alliance is demonstrating how a collaborative approach can help to address the SDG in an integrated way – tackling affordable housing, climate change and community wellbeing as critical local issues.


By cultivating a nurturing environment for social innovators within local communities, we ensure they gain access to essential resources and network connections critical for transforming innovative ideas into tangible solutions. Schools and academic institutions are increasingly recognized as fertile grounds for nurturing social innovators – offering training, mentorship and networks to support and grow new ideas. Greenhouse, a social incubator at the University of Waterloo’s United College, provides idea incubation for young social innovators who are making direct contributions to the SDGs as part of the University’s Innovation Ecosystem. Other incubators like the John F. Wood Centre at the University of Guelph, help to foster social innovation, including spaces – both digital and physical – where social innovators meet to exchange ideas and develop funding connections to develop and scale new ideas for achieving the SDGs. 

Example: Design Thinking and Community Connected Learning and Social Innovation


Social Impact Wheel. Board of Innovation. https://www.boardofinnovation.com/tools/social-impact-wheel/ 

Taking Credible Action on the SDGs. Green Economy Canada. https://vimeo.com/516903548 

See the SDG Changemaker Library for more relevant resources.