The Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab (PSIL), committed to promoting and nurturing innovation for social impact, will be launched in January of 2013 as an offshoot of the successful three-year-old Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ).
PSIL is a partnership between the PSIJ and the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Institute of Government, PennDesign and PennPraxis, and a response to demands for new social enterprise models that are cost effective, financially self-sustainable, adaptive to feedback and metrics, with clear outcome accountability measures, and the potential for large-scale impact.
The Lab nurtures social enterprise models from ideas to implementation, increasing blended value—social impact and financial sustainability. The Social Innovations Lab will provide a low-risk opportunity to test, vet, and bring to implementation, strong ideas across the social sector, social enterprise, and government. The Lab’s goal is to increase the chances that the strongest ideas of Social Innovators will take root, attract capital, and ultimately have a significant social impact regionally, nationally, and internationally.
The Social Innovations Lab operates over 15 weeks, leading participants through the components and competencies of social innovations and innovators, building and fine tuning the necessary infrastructure to position their service idea, and market testing with target customers to demonstrate feasibility, sustainability and scalability. Selected participants from a competitive screening process and diverse sector cohorts of private, government, and nonprofit organizations will refine and test proposals, research and tap into external resources, and build the necessary infrastructure to get their idea or organization up and running. Participants will be able to articulate their social innovations model and intended Social Return on Investment, and will have a sustainable business model, a well-defined strategy for execution, an analysis of the competition, a market-tested pilot, and a plan for scaling up the innovation via policy or market forces. They will be issued a Social Innovations /Impact Certificate from Fels Institute of Government of the University of Pennsylvania equal to a 3 Credit Course.
• CROSS-SECTOR: creating an attractive option to both funders and social sector organizations.
• LOW-RISK: taking great ideas and testing them in a low risk and low cost environment. • HIGH-RETURN: large investments can be wisely made; support dollars can go much further.
• MENTORING: providing leadership, coordination, resources, and infrastructure from experts in the
• DATA-RICH: setting sector-wide standards, research, case studies, theories of change, and sustainable
• NETWORKING: linking investors to mentors, ready investors, partners, and facilitators. • PUBLISHING: featuring social sector ideas generated through the lab in PSIJ.
• RESOUCES: building a worldwide database of peer social innovation organizations, funding and
investment opportunities, research, and alliances.
• COLLABORATION: forming research partnerships across Penn departments and schools, and with
other institutions locally and globally.
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