Thinking on Social Capital
28 March 2017 at 4:14 pm
A series of residencies focused on growing social capital, the fastest growing section of the South Australian economy, is set to attract some of the world’s best thinkers to Adelaide and could transform the state into a leader in the space.
Not-for-profit think tank the Don Dunstan Foundation has partnered with the university, business and community sectors to deliver a new Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program.
The series, which was launched on Monday and will run over 18 months, will focus on supporting job creation, attracting investments and driving knowledge-based exports.
The aim is to help redesign the social innovation ecosystem so that the private, public and not-for-profit sectors are all helping to grow the economy and do good at the same time.
Social Capital Residencies chair and former Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu managing partner Rob DiMonte said they were taking “a new approach” to the program to engage their partners from the beginning and ensure they were “invested in driving real outcomes”.
“Enterprises with a social goal are more successful and grow faster than other SMEs,” DiMonte said.
“In South Australia, ABS statistics show employment in this area grew by more than 13 per cent between 2012 and 2015.
“There is a huge amount of capital out there globally – just looking for a home.
“South Australia has a great opportunity to tap into what is a growth sector throughout the world, while at the same time addressing South Australia’s most contemporary needs – job creation and investment.”
The program, which builds on the original Thinkers in Residence Program, aims to attract experts from around the world, whose knowledge, skills and creative ideas can provide thought leadership on how companies and organisations can invest in better social outcomes.
The goal is to use business model innovation to help break down the silos between the business and social innovation ecosystems and ultimately help position South Australia as the “social capital”’ of the region.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill praised the new business-led approach to the program and said it would encourage “strategic alliances” that could drive positive outcomes for the state.
“It’s a knowledge exchange that can help grow our understanding of the social economy and the opportunities it presents, both socially and economically,” Weatherill said.
“South Australia has a real opportunity to be a leader in this space.”
The first primary thinker for the Social Capital Residency will be Allyson Hewitt, a senior fellow at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, who is leading an initiative to develop a pro bono marketplace for Canada.
She will be supported by a range of “supporting thinkers” throughout the residency, including Suzi Sosa, co-founder and CEO of global social enterprise Verb.
Hewitt will first visit in May this year and Sosa will be out in July.