The current publication is part of a series of materials which aim to support the mission of “Tech I Want” Association to support tech innovations which improve people’s lives in all areas. “Tech I Want” Association with an ID number 206108497 is a public benefit non profit, which performs non-commercial activities only, in accordance with its mission.

What is innovation?

The first thing we think of when we hear the word innovation is an invention, or sophisticated product, process, or service that adds new value or leads to some kind of improvement. We think of innovation as something new, useful, better and necessary.

Innovations start with the desire to make meaning, to change the world for better. In the digital era we live in, we use more and more new technological innovations. We might not know how the codes behind them work, but we all understand the impact they have on our life. 

Some of those technological innovations are with social impact, and they aim to achieve effective results in different social and environmental initiatives that are exposed to different communities. They are not created solely for the benefit of an individual, and they are designed to have an important trace in the life and future of societies around the globe.

Social innovations restructure how we do things – in this context, they could be in the governments themselves. They might be ecological projects or in the financial, health or charity sectors. To achieve changes for better impact on our community, we need to work collectively for those projects.

Types of social innovations

Social innovations are grouped into three main types, and they are significant for our future as a community. Тhese major divisions of social innovation are the basis from which future technological social projects unfold.

Product-based social innovations – they create social change by offering new programs or adapting existing services to address people’s needs. 

Process-based social innovations – create social change by adapting an organisation structure and external processes to develop a better outcome for service users. 

Socially transformative innovations – create social change by addressing systemic issues like oppression, social inequality or negative perceptions and stereotypes. This change can take place inside service delivery organisations or in society. 

Social innovations could have different concepts, but they all have one goal – to change the world for the better. 

For example, many of the platforms or products we use with a positive impact on society are open source-based – those kinds of products are designed to support either community projects or more global ones. They give all men the ability to work with a certain platform, to apply changes and to contribute to a product with their knowledge and work. They strive for bettering and decentralisation of services and products open to the public. 

Here comes the question of how to make the difference between good and bad innovations we might choose to support.

Assessing technologies ethically is the right path one can take while looking for a social innovation to support. A useful starting point is to look for compatibility with the golden rule: do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Good innovations are ones that we would want for ourselves and those we love. Bad ones (like many of the financial innovations of the 1990s and 2000s) clearly breach the golden rule in that the providers would not want themselves to be consumers.

– Geoff Mulgan

We, as individuals, could support the innovations we like and want to develop further. And here comes the question of how to find innovations that we might like to support.

One of the ways to find and support innovations is through the platforms for funding peoples ideas. That’s the best way to support a community – through contributing for future innovation which will make a change in the lives of particular groups of people.

What is crowdfunding? 

It is pulling funds together in benefit of a cause or creative project or even a product. Crowdfunding possesses a vast potential for bringing people together. It happens principally on a local level – people support other people’s projects within the local communities they live in, but there is a massive power of crowdfunding nationally and internationally.

Technology is where most of the crowdfunding happens.

You may have heard about a campaign called the “Solar freak in roadways campaign.” A couple of Idaho has had the dream to make the world completely solar-powered. They wanted to start with a small town, and they paved the streets with Solar panels that you can drive, park and walk on. They can melt the snow to reduce greenhouse gases by 75%. Forty-Eight thousand people have powered this great idea. And it’s happened thanks to those who believed in the concept! 

There are many crowdfunding websites we can find on the internet. And the diversity of the projects listed on those platforms is enormous. You can choose to support small local projects or more global ones. The choice is yours.

How is a good crowdfunding project built?

The first and most important thing is the idea behind innovation. It’s not enough to take an existing product or concept and to add some improvements. Useful innovations are extreme, sometimes they look impossible, and this is what makes them so important when achieved. 

When looking to find a useful social innovation to support, you can have those factors in mind:

Behind every good idea for a project stands proper marketing research. 

Having to know the target audience of a project is a great advantage. 

One of the most helpful things in crowdfunding platforms is that the audience is expressing their thoughts freely. So you can easily find feedback based on real people’s opinion. 

The so-called investors in those projects are kind of part of the team.

It’s great if the project leads have in mind people’s ideas around the proposition they try to fund and show transparent information to the newly created community. Best innovations start with great ideas which are discussed, different opinions are expressed, and various approaches to the topic are exchanged.

Benefits of Crowdfunding platforms for the projects

Another great thing about platforms for funding innovations is that they have the power to bring a lot of new traffic and interest to the newborn projects. Many journalists keep an eye onto those platforms in a search for the next big thing. As many investors also do so.

The last thing we will mention but believe us it’s one of the top factors for people to engage with a particular project is the Video. In essence, it must be interesting and professionally made in order to catch the viewers attention.

Other factors we can take in mind when looking for tech and social innovations to support

If the above factors are met, and the idea of ​​the innovation is really good and does not copy another of similar nature, then we can classify the project as potentially worthy of our in-depth look.

Another indication for a good technological social innovation is the presence of the current project in some of the European Commission’s funding digital social initiatives (DSI) or other non-profit organisations which aim to create better solutions for existing problems either in our communities or more global ones such as the plastic pollution in our planet.

One of those European societal challenges is the program called Horizon 2020 which intent is to make science more attractive to the youngsters and to connect science with society using the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach. This approach supposes extensive social engagement, broad access to scientific results, ethical principles and equality.

Conclusion

In the information age we live in, internet technologies and software tools are becoming an integral part of our lives. We often start our day by opening a page from our favourite online newspaper and browse through the headlines to find out what’s happening around the world. We check our social media accounts to greet friends and share events, interesting facts and ideas. We use “clouds” to store and share videos, photos and files; chat and video conversations to communicate with those who are far away from us; and many other tools for a variety of purposes.

Modern information technologies create an open, virtually interconnected environment that gives us almost unlimited opportunities to access, store and share data, as well as to communicate beyond the boundaries of time and space. Because organisational creativity and innovation depend on the accessibility of information, effortless data sharing and collaboration in the workplace, as well as the use of appropriate tools, are extremely important for today’s organisation and life as a whole.

Social innovation is a process of devising, providing support and implementing new solutions to social needs and problems, as defined by Stanford University. It is a process that is not a privilege of a single state, structure or organiсation because, to be successful, social innovation requires cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary efforts. And we all have the opportunity to be part of them.

Sources:

1) nesta.org – Good and bad innovation: what kind of theory and practice do we need to distinguish them?
2) thecrowdfundingformula.com – 9¾ Benefits of Crowdfunding You Shouldn’t Underestimate
3) thecrowdfundingformula.com – Indiegogo campaign 
4) ec.europa.eu – Science with and for Society
5) martel-innovate.com – Technology for social good: digital social innovation
6) youtube.com – Speed up innovation with design thinking
7) ec.europa.eu – Technology as an engine for innovative ideas