What is SiG?

Social Innovation Generation (SiG) was a partnership founded by four Canadian institutions and organizations: the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, MaRS Discovery District, the University of Waterloo and SiG West (formerly with the PLAN Institute). SiG’s activities are supported by a national office located at MaRS. Spearheaded in 2006 by the McConnell Foundation, SiG was a response to the growing recognition that mounting social and environmental challenges needed to be met by Canadians capable of developing solutions at scale.

SiG’s mission was to address Canada’s social and ecological challenges by engaging the creativity and resources of all sectors to foster a culture of continuous social innovation.

Individually and collectively, SiG partners served a constituency of nonprofits, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and social purpose businesses. Committed to tri-sector dialogue and solutions development, SiG also worked together with federal and provincial governments, the private sector, and academe.

Although there are numerous definitions of social innovation circulating around the world, the most simple of which is “new ideas that work to address social need,” SiG’s definition was based on decades of research into how social and environmental systems evolve and change.

As their academic partner SiG@Waterloo articulated:

“In the context of changing the system dynamics that created the problem in the first place, a social innovation is any initiative (product, process, program, project or platform) that challenges and, over time, contributes to changing the defining routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of the broader social system in which it is introduced.

Successful social innovations reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience. They have durability, scale and transformative impact.” Frances Westley