Social innovation lab and incubator RADIUS launched at Beedie School

Mar 25, 2013

RadiusThe Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University has established RADIUS, a new interdisciplinary social innovation lab and venture incubator that aims to change business education and launch high-impact solutions to social challenges.

RADIUS (RADical Ideas, Useful to Society) will bring together students from all faculties across SFU to develop and nurture practical solutions to pressing social problems and provide opportunities for deeper learning.

The initiative will employ an interdisciplinary approach to develop solutions to problems and incubate and implement projects to address social issues.

Students participating in RADIUS will experience a unique model of business teaching based on experiential learning.

RADIUS already has a number of projects ongoing, working with partners such as Ecotrust Canada, where students aim to establish traceability and certification of forest products and economic valuation of environmental impacts.

Leading the social incubator are SFU Beedie senior fellow David Dunne and adjunct professor Shawn Smith. The pair have a strong track record in innovation education and venture incubation.

Dunne, formerly of the Rotman School of Management, is an award-winning business educator who, as a manager, launched multi-million dollar products, and consults to multi-nationals on design and customer experience.

“Wicked problems are pervasive in business and society – they are critical, chronic, and have no clear start or end point,” says Dunne, co-founder and chair of RADIUS. “To work on wicked problems in social innovation, students need ways of thinking that deal with ambiguity, incorporate and balance the concerns of those affected, and are action-focused. RADIUS will teach students to rethink problems from the ground up, empathize with those affected, and create radical, sustainable opportunities.”

Smith is a globally recognized social entrepreneur. Last year, he launched the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at SFU Beedie, which has gone on to produce a number of social ventures, such as a cultural experience company employing immigrant women, and a transportation sharing community.

“At RADIUS, we know that big ideas are great, but pressing social issues demand action,” says Smith, co-founder and director of RADIUS. “Instead of solving pre-digested cases, RADIUS students will encounter the messy real world, coming up with creative solutions and then moving them to implementation. We are helping not just to ask the right questions, but to then turn the answers in viable, high impact social ventures.”

“As a business school we have made a longstanding commitment to social innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Daniel Shapiro, Dean of the Beedie School of Business. “Our students engaged with RADIUS will continue to inspire and motivate us as we help them learn how to become responsible, creative leaders and entrepreneurs. This is a great example of learning that that is adaptive, interactive and highly experiential.”

For more information about RADIUS, visit http://beedie.sfu.ca/radius/

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