Social Innovation (IV). Susanne Stormer: Changing future Health

Notes from the VI Annual Conference of the Institute for Social Innovation, held at ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation, Barcelona, Spain, in February 20, 2013. More notes on this event: #6ac.

Keynote: Susanne Stormer, Vice President of the Global Triple Bottom Line Management, NovoNordisk
Changing future Health.

Research tell us that people that lived during the Dutch Famine (1943-1944), their bodies “memorize” the state of hunger even if, 50 after, famine is over. Then, the maladjustment between reality (there is abundance of food) and body memory, creates diabetes. And, indeed, ther is n intergenerational transfer of risk of having such health diseases. And what happens during pregnancy is utterly important when it comes to transmission of e.g. diabetes.

Changing Diabetes is a project to prevent diabetes by acting on “vicious” life cycles that increase the risk of diabetes through unhealthy lifestyles. A social innovation approach was chosen when it came to designing and put into practice.

Public-private partnerships were established in Malaysia, the place where to run a pilot project to raise awareness on the risks of diabetes and unhealthy lifestyles. The programme was embedded in the national health system not to disrupt it.


Carmen Netzel: what was the rationale for choosing Malaysia? Stormer: we saw that there was a huge need in the country. The government was ready and keen to have a programme to address the issue. And there already was research thoroughly depicting the state of the question.

Q: what were the difficulties in collaborating with partners from other sectors (e.g. nonporfits)? Do not individuals feel they had their lives invaded? Stormer: on the contrary, people are eager to listen for good advice and guidance if it is good for their health. Related to collaboration, it is true that working with partners from the third sector, it is very important to take your time to build strong and long-term relationships so that the different tempos and sensibilities are in line.

Q: how do you engage with people in telling them that their lifestyles are “not convenient”? Stormer: we call it “food literacy” and the idea is showing people, with real evidence, that there is food that is more convenient than other. And, indeed, people already do know that, so it is about creating an environment that values a change of lifestyle.

Q: how is social innovation and private-public partnerships changing your business model? Stormer: it will not. This initiative is another way of approaching the same mission, which is health, though the core business is about providing medicines (while Changing Diabetes is about prevention).

Jem Bendell: can’t see Changing Diabetes as social innovation, but as corporate philanthropy, as there is no creation of entrepreneurship or social tissue. Stormer: it is right that there is a lack of incentives to challenge and change reality. But the project settles a new landscape over which others can build up things.

Ismael Peña-López: the previous speakers stressed the importance of sharing the process in social innovation. But, shockingly enough, the project “Changing Diabetes” is a registered brand. Can “social innovation” be copyrighted? Are there plans to open up the project and share the procedures and materials so that the initiative can be replicated elsewhere? Stormer: it’s just the name that is registered. Some materials have been shared in the past among partners [personal note: can’t find any materials (of any kind) on Changing Diabetes website, not to speak about any CC-licensed content. Just the ever present ®].


VI Annual Conference Institute for Social Innovation (2013)

Social Innovation (III). Presentation of the study: “Co-innovation: keys to learn how to innovate from the alliances”

Notes from the VI Annual Conference of the Institute for Social Innovation, held at ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation, Barcelona, Spain, in February 20, 2013. More notes on this event: #6ac.

Maria Prandi, Researcher, Institute for Social Innovation, ESADE
Juan Cano, Entrepreneur and consultant, Semilla Consultores Ltda, Bogotá, Colombia

Co-innovation: innovation through collaboration.

Matrix of innovation based on two axis: technology, and business model. When both have radical advances, we find radical innovation. When both make slight advances, we got incremental innovation. When one factor advances radically and the other just slightly, the outcome is semiradical innovation. Radical innovation is found in mobile phones, where both technology and business models advanced radically. Semi-radical innovation is found in GPSs or digital photography, where only one factor (business model in the former, technology in the later) advances radically and the other one slightly.

Social innovation chooses the most effective among the existing solutions and increases the capacity to innovate socially, because it addresses real needs and/or people’s demands.

In the third sector, social innovation produces new services and outputs along with new sources of income. In the public sector, social innovation is again new public services, along with new policies. The informal sector (non-institutional or non-organized citizens) can provide, with social innovation, new ways of collaboration, along with new ways to adapt to difficulties. In the academic sector, the two axes of radical innovation are connecting science and technology and the ways to train in competences.

Benefits of social innovation:

  • More opportunities for generating ideas.
  • Broader answers to social needs.
  • More efficient, quick, real, agile solutions.
  • Coordinated increase of the society’s capacity to act.

Some conclusions on social innovation:

  • In social innovation the creative process is as important as the interaction with other actors.
  • Social innovation takes place when different sectors overlap.
  • Social innovation can be learnt and, over all, can be shared.


VI Annual Conference Institute for Social Innovation (2013)

Social Innovation (II). The technology sector as a driver for social innovation

Notes from the VI Annual Conference of the Institute for Social Innovation, held at ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation, Barcelona, Spain, in February 20, 2013. More notes on this event: #6ac.

Round table on technology enterprises as a driver for social innovation.

Ismael Peña, Professor of Law and Political Science of Open University
Network society and social innovation

Sofía Fernández, Director of Social Responsibility and Innovation in Telefónica and Project Manager of M-Inclusion

Mobile broadband and massive adoption of the mobile Internet have disclosed huge opportunities to act and work without any barriers of space. So, what are the incentives that should be put into work so that there were more mobile applications for development and e-inclusion.

We are already finding many examples in apps addressed at solving issues related with health, gender, governance, rural development… and the interesting thing is that there is a market for that, meaning: it is no more about giving money away, but about investment. There can or cannot be profit, but at least economic sustainability can be reconsidered under a very new light.

M-Inclusion is a cooperative framework to encourage the use of innovative, user-oriented, and affordable mobile solutions supporting social integration in Europe and Latin America.

The “divides” are not separate rooms of poverty, but overlap systematically.

It is important to see what are the challenges not only from the technological point of view, but also from the users’ point of view (e.g. accessibility).

We are trying that applications that usually can only run on smartphones can be run on cheaper/simpler terminals.

Patricia Pólvora, Ericsson Response Communications Officer
Ericsson Response

Ericsson Response is a corporate volunteering programme to help humanitarian organizations to communicate, usually in natural disaster situations: what is the necessity, what should we focus at, what are our best partners, what are our values, what are our goals, what is the vision of the whole project. The idea behind Ericsson Response is providing what Ericsson is best at — and/or better than anyone else — and let everyone do what they do best: no overlapping, no competition. Just see where value can be added.

Social innovation is about solving needs, and solving needs is about solving specific needs. And we have to find the best partners so that the addition can create synergies: 1+1 cannot be 2, but 1+1 has to be 3. Nonprofits should learn the language of businesses and of “for-profits”.

After food and water, communication is among the most important needs.


Pere Losantos: how is knowledge generated in e-inclusion projects reverting in the core business of the firm? Sofía Fernández: it is the job of the non-profit wing of the company to engage the for-profit wing, raising awareness on the benefits of cooperating in finding new markets, new ideas, new partners.

Carmen Netzel: does Ericsson Response act only in emergencies, or also in situations of “structural poverty”? Patricia Pólvora: only in emergencies. Which means that Ericsson Response works non-profit with NGOs in humanitarian relief, but Ericsson works for-profit with governments and telcos to develop country-wide and stable infrastructures.


VI Annual Conference Institute for Social Innovation (2013)

Social Innovation (I). Jem Bendell: Unleashing Abundance, collaborative disruptive social innovation

Notes from the VI Annual Conference of the Institute for Social Innovation, held at ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation, Barcelona, Spain, in February 20, 2013. More notes on this event: #6ac.

Introduction, by Ignasi Carreras

Keys for innovation:

  • Link ideas.
  • Challenge the “status quo” by questioning it.
  • Have an “attentive” eye.
  • Share experiences/knowledge in your networks.
  • Experiment and essay.
  • Learn from errors.

A reference: Rodríguez Blanco, Carreras, Sureda (2012). Innovar para el cambio social (PDF).

Keynote: Jem Bendell, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability at the University of Cumbria, UK
Unleashing Abundance: “collaborative disruptive social innovation”.

How to enable and foster systemic change? Impact the decision makers. The Deeer Luxury report aimed at raising awareness on how top-level brands were disrespectful for the environment.

Enterprises, especially big companies, can be — should be — used for massive change.

The Internet brings massive potential for change, based on disruptive innovation.

(Bendell describes here a list of disruptive innovations, like Wikipedia, Kickstarter or virtual currencies).

We have to stop thinking that we are poor: there is abundance of resources, beginning with the way we relate with each other, how we are useful to others. To be the change we have to be the change together, and build alternatives together. A way of starting could be getting out of the financial system and see whether we can collaborate without money, just exchanging our own wealth (which is not necessarily money).


Q: How to make disruptive innovation and social innovation mainstream? Jem Bendell: try to bring the innovators out of your usual framework, and nurture them. We have to get people out of their comfort zone so that they can see what is happening outside in the world. CEOs should create subsidiaries that only focus on social innovation, taking innovators to see poverty, to see other realities.


VI Annual Conference Institute for Social Innovation (2013)

Book Chapter: Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecoms contribute.

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ESADE‘s Institute for Social Innovation has just published a new book authored by Mar Cordobés and Beatriz Sanz, and coordinated by Sonia Navarro: TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos [ICT, inclusive development and businesses].

The book deals about Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) but, provided that ESADE is a business school, the approach heavily relies on the role of businesses in achieving this development through ICTs.

The book begins with two initial chapters on ICTs in social inclusion and the role of global businesses in development under the approach of “inclusive markets”. The second part of the book is made up by an analysis of several cases in the field of e-commerce, e-agriculture, learning and training, e-health, e-governance or online volunteering, to name a few.

Part III devotes three chapters to the conclusions and advice for policy-makers, being Part IV four more chapters written by invited contributors (amongst them, yours truly):

  • Manuel Acevedo: ICT and human development in Latin America.
  • Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol: Mobile communication and social development in Latin America.
  • Ismael Peña-López: Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecoms contribute.
  • Vanessa Frías-Martínez: Mobile phones and emergent markets in Latin America.

In what concerns my book chapter, Key factors for successful ICT4D projects: How can telecommunication businesses contribute to the advancement in ICT4D, I begin speaking about general concepts like development, the Information Society and their relationship. I go on stating that digital infrastructures do not necessarily lead to social development, being them “only” a necessary but not sufficient condition that goes in parallel with other important aspects such as a powerful industry, digital literacy, a regulatory framework, or a wide supply of digital content and services.

I end up listing what I think are the three main roles for telecoms in ICT4D:

  1. To lower down the “last” barriers of access in what refers to infrastructures: usability, accessibility and affordability.
  2. Once physical access is no more an issue, to work for utility, capacity and e-awareness. That is, to raise awareness not only on what can ICTs can be used for, but on how they are transforming our lives and creating new arrays of exclusion for those that do not skilfully use them.
  3. Last, but not least, to mind the context: ICTs are a tool and, as such, they multiply the reality they are used in. In this sense, it is very important to remind that ICTs stand for “information” and “communication” technologies, and thus the knowledge gap is a hypothesis that is increasingly been backed up with evidence.

Download the chapter:

logo of ePUB file
Ismael Peña-López (2012).
Factores clave para el éxito en los proyectos ICT4D. ¿Cómo las empresas de telecomunicaciones pueden contribuir al avance en este ámbito?“. En Cordobés, M., Sanz, B. & Navarro, S. (Coord.) , TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos, Capítulo 13, 183-192. Madrid: Fundación Telefónica, Editorial Ariel.

Download the full book:

Download from the official website.

Alternate download:

logo of ePUB file
Cordobés, M., Sanz, B. & Navarro, S. (Coord.), (2012).
TIC, desarrollo y negocios inclusivos. Madrid: Fundación Telefónica, Editorial Ariel.