Social Innovation Labs

Positive Benefits as being developing knowledge and creating tools in the last 10 years exploring and understanding the past of the social innovation assets and projecting the future with some of the key world pioneers and founders of this concept.




Coordinated by Social Innovation Exchange and ESADE by BOSH foundation sponsorship, Positive Benefits as participated in the study and workshops to the development of a tool to enable "social innovations labs".



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Social Innovation Labs - Foreword


There is an increased awareness that novel ways are needed to address our contemporary societal challenges, which are complex, intractable, and interconnected. Over the past few years, social innovation labs have emerged around the world with the premise to provide alternative and effective approaches for tackling systemic problems and bringing about positive social transformation. These labs have rapidly grown in number and popularity alongside the social innovation movement, and have gained the attention of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers. What exactly are they and how do they function? What are the most effective methods they use? What are the challenges they face? Have they delivered the promise on which they were built?


These are some of the questions that the ESADE Institute for Social Innovation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung aimed to address during a research project conducted in 2017. An important finding of this research is that there is a wide variety and many trajectories of social innovation labs. Between 2013 and 2015 there was an intensity and convergence of efforts to understand, define, classify, and promote these labs, particularly those that supported innovation in public administration. A main characteristic shared across the spectrum of social innovation labs is their adoption of an experimental approach driven by human-centred design tools and rapid prototyping principles. Furthermore, most social innovation labs place emphasis in engaging a diverse group of stakeholders to bring about systems change and transform the fundamental structures, processes, institutions, behaviours, and values underpinning contemporary problems.


This publication is offered as a resource to all those interested in how to best address the challenges we are facing in systemic and sustainable ways. It gives an overview of the social innovation labs movement that has developed in recent years, and a review of the key material it has generated – including method guides and critical reflections. As the social innovation lab ecosystem further expands and diverges, we hope that this report becomes a reference point for the accumulation of knowledge so that efforts are not replicated, lessons are learned, and the full potential of labs is realised. We also hope that it becomes a source of inspiration for joined action across sectors, particularly between higher education institutions, foundations, and businesses that want to make a positive social impact.​





Positive Benefits as being supporting and developing other Social innovation related tools such as the:

  • ES+ Methodology, Social Innovation mapping methodology (2012-2017)

  • The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Changing the World, SI Bootcamp Book tool (2012-2105)




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