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What innovations and where?

An article published in Impresa Sociale analyses the theoretical mechanisms and practical cases of new approaches to innovative policies with the ability to provide a response to the new challenges we face today

Companies and social players are increasingly finding themselves faced with a situation that is not only complex but also constantly changing. The Covid-19 pandemic is certainly now the most significant ‘cause’ of this complexity, but there had already been various other sources of pressure complicating the situation prior to that. What we need are new policies and renewed commitments on all parts — a challenge within a challenge, then, and one that Mario Calderini and Francesco Gerli (both of the Politecnico di Milano) address in their article published in one of the latest issues of Impresa Sociale.

‘Innovazione, sfide sociali e protagonismo dell’imprenditoria ad impatto.  Un ripensamento degli ecosistemi d’innovazione per una nuova generazione di politiche’ (‘Innovation, social challenges and entrepreneurship with impact. Rethinking innovation ecosystems for a new generation of policies’) is a complex research article that addresses an ever-changing issue and is worthy of careful reading.

The starting point for Calderini and Gerli’s article is that “the global pandemic that the Covid-19 virus has created and the crisis, with its strong systematic characterisation, that it has caused represent one of the great social and environmental challenges that innovation and technology policies must also now face”. All the more so, in fact, with the two authors immediately explain that the need to face what are referred to as “major challenges” appears “even more pressing in the contemporary post-pandemic context”.

Calderini and Gerli consequently reason based on the most recent literature, beginning by looking at failures, ‘grand challenges’ and an additional challenge in the form of the regional innovation management. One of the potential tasks that will help us to respond appropriately to this change is, in fact, the radicalisation of innovation on the ground. A number of theoretical approaches to understanding what is defined as (positive) “impact-oriented entrepreneurship” are therefore examined and the potential characteristics of an “innovation ecosystem” with the ability to create such an impact in a particular region considered.

This being the case, the study conducted by Calderini and Gerli ends with two case studies, namely those of Mind (the Milan Innovation District) and the Torino Social Impact.

Reading what the two researchers from the Politecnico di Milano have written is no easy task, but it could well prove useful if you feel you are ready to move beyond simply looking at the facts to really understand them in greater depth.

Innovazione, sfide sociali e protagonismo dell’imprenditoria ad impatto. Un ripensamento degli ecosistemi d’innovazione per una nuova generazione di politiche

Mario Calderini, Francesco Gerli (Politecnico di Milano)

Impresa sociale, 3, 2020, pagg. 10-19