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Social Innovation and Ideas

Social innovation is the design and application of better ways of meeting social needs. It is the use of an innovative approach for dealing with complex social problems.

Ontario’s Social Innovation Summit

In May 2011, the Ontario government held its first Social Innovation Summit: Building Partnerships for Social Change. The summit brought together business, government and community leaders to explore new partnerships to resolve social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges in Ontario and beyond.

Ontario’s Social Innovation Wiki is a companion to the summit. All Ontarians are invited to contribute their ideas and help to develop a policy framework for social innovation in Ontario. This online space is presented by the Ontario ministries of economic development and innovation, citizenship and immigration, and children and youth services.

Ontario Organizations Dedicated to Social Innovation

There are many organizations dedicated to social innovation, the following provides links to their websites.

Note: the Ontario government does not officially endorse external organizations or websites.

Beyond Profit

Beyond Profit is a social enterprise magazine. Here is a link to an article,
5 Ps To Make A Social Enterprise 'P for Perfect' which gives five steps to building and sustaining a socially conscious business.

The Canadian Economic Development Network

The Canadian Community Economic Development Network is a national member-led organization committed to strengthening Canadian communities by creating better economic opportunities and enhancing environmental and social conditions.

The Centre for Social Innovation

Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation creates community workspaces, incubates emerging enterprises, and develops new models and methods with world-changing potential!

The Collaborative for Innovative Social Enterprise Development

The Collaborative for Innovative Social Enterprise Development’s goal is to create a continuum of support for social enterprise in the city of Ottawa through access to technical expertise, financing, learning communities, training, and cross-sector partnerships.

Enterprising Non-Profits

Enterprising Non-Profits, enp, is a unique collaborative program that promotes and supports social enterprise development and growth as a means to build strong non-profit organizations and healthier communities.

The Ontario Co-operative Association

The Ontario Co-operative Association is a resource and common voice for Ontario credit unions and co-operatives in the areas of co-operative development, government relations, membership and communications, and lifelong co-operative learning. Our mission is to lead, cultivate and connect co-operatives.

The Ontario Nonprofit Network

The ONN’s mandate is to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with non-profit organizations working for the public benefit in Ontario.

The Ontario Social Economy Roundtable

The Ontario Social Economy Roundtable is a network of independent and connected organizations interested in working with the social economy sector with the aim to increase financial resources available to the social economy sector, improve regulatory environmentto facilitate the work of this sector; improve connections among organizations working in the SE sector; improve understanding of the sector, its needs and its opportunities;  and improve awareness of the SE among Ontarians and among decision-makers.

MaRS Discovery District

MaRS drives social and economic prosperity by leading Canada’s innovation mission.

Social Innovation Generation at MaRS
 (English Only)

You will find videos, social media, and other resources on industry standards and regulations from MaRS. You will also find practical support for socially aware businesses

Pillar Nonprofit Network

The Pillar Nonprofit Network, the United Way of London & Middlesex, and the Richard Ivey School of Business have partnered to generate capacity for social enterprise and evaluate it as a tool to create social change.

Based in LondonOntario, the Pillar Non-profit Network supports non-profit organizations in fulfilling their missions in the community.  Pillar provides leadership, advocacy and support to the non-profit sector through the promotion of volunteerism, professional development, networking, and information.

Social Economy Centre

The Social Economy Centre (SEC) of the University of Toronto promotes and disseminates multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on issues affecting the social economy. The Centre was established in 2005 as a unit of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.

Social Enterprise Council of Canada

The Social Enterprise Council of Canada is an alliance of social enterprise leaders who leverage their networks, knowledge and experience in order to build a strong and enabling environment for social enterprise

Social Enterprise Fund

Launched in February 2008, the Social Enterprise Fund is an innovative made-in-Edmonton initiative that combines business expertise with flexible financing to help Edmonton not-for-profit organizations and cooperatives create or expand strong, sustainable business ventures, or social or affordable housing projects. Here is a link to How to Build a Social Enterprise from the Social Enterprise Fund (English Only) a fact sheet that gives tips on business plans, legal considerations, and other resources for starting a socially conscious business.


SocialFinance.ca goal is a world in which the innovations and resources of finance are harnessed to produce positive social, environmental, and commercial advancements. Their mission is to catalyze and sustain a robust social finance marketplace in Canada.

Social Innovation Generation

SiG is a collaborative partnership between The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the University of Waterloo, the MaRS Discovery District, and the PLAN Institute. Its goal is to support whole system change through changing the broader economic, cultural and policy context in Canada to allow social innovations to flourish. Funded by the Ministry of Research and Innovation, SiG has a specific focus on social entrepreneurship.

Social Purpose Enterprise Network

Social Purpose Enterprise Network of Toronto is a self-managed network of social purpose enterprise (SPE) managers and practitioners.  It was founded in 2006 with a primary purpose of providing a voice and strategies for SPE mangers, SPEN Toronto’s mission so to grow social purpose enterprise in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Social Venture Exchange

This project is an initiative of SiG at MaRS, in collaboration with TMX Group Inc.

The SVX will be a local, impact first market connecting social ventures, impact funds, and impact investors in order to catalyze new debt and equity investment capital for local ventures that have demonstrable social and/or environmental impact, including nonprofits, co-operatives, and for-profit corporations. 

The Toronto Enterprise Fund

The Toronto Enterprise Fund supports the establishment of social purpose enterprises that provide transitional or permanent employment for people who are socially marginalized in Toronto.

Through their employment with a social purpose enterprise, participants gain economic opportunities, work experience and related training, additional income, improved life skills and self-esteem, and better connections to their community and the labour force.

Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada

Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada is Canada’s largest network of socially-driven young entrepreneurs. Its mission is to ignite a movement of young social entrepreneurs who align people, planet and profit.