The inaugural summit of “Social Innovation Congress” was held by legislator Yu Wan Ju on June 22nd. Multi-partisan legislators and representatives of foreign governments including Mr. Ryan Engen from the American Institute in Taiwan and Ms. Anne Rulliat from the Bureau Français de Taipei participated in the summit to support social innovation in Taiwan.
In addition, government officials, financial institutions, intermediary organizations, social enterprises and NGOs were also invited to join this event. More than a hundred people attended this summit as an assembly of social innovation activists to exchange ideas from different perspectives.
Piyush Gupta, CEO of the DBS Group was invited to give the keynote speech titled “Social Innovation and the Necessary Drive.” Mr. Gupta mentioned that DBS has engaged 28,000 social enterprises to incubate and empower them.
“Businesses of the future are interwoven with of the social value represented by traditional charities and the financial value pursued by for-profit businesses,” suggested Mr. Gupta. “The emergence of small and medium-sized social enterprises is the key factor leading us to the development of a sustainable society in the future.”
Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s minister without portfolio, also delivered a welcome speech through pre-recorded video. “I’m glad that legislator Yu took the initiative to establish the Social Innovation Congress as a platform to build a network of different professions and sectors for social innovation,” agreed Ms. Tang. “Only by scaling social innovation can we bring real social changes.”
Mr. Ryan Engen from the AIT also stated that social innovation plays an important role in solving global social problems, while the Social Innovation Congress demonstrates the spirit of Taiwanese entrepreneurship and sets a role model for the region.
Legislator Yu Wan Ju also emphasized the importance of scaling innovation, apart from urging more aggressive adoptions of innovative ideas.
A report published in the Harvard Business Review pointed out that it takes more than 20 years (with a median of about 45 years) for 90% of the efforts to diffuse results; however, most plans or programs to support social innovation from government or private sectors last only two years or less. That is, expecting the governments to address all urgent social problems would be impractical.
Hence, legislator Yu lunched the multi-partisan Social Innovation Congress to facilitate the advocacy of social innovation as well as connection among various social innovation agents. The Social Innovation Congress serves to associate government agencies, intermediary organizations, financial institutions, social enterprises, NGOs and academic scholars; and the linkage and interaction established among such organizations will help generating innovative solutions to social problems on the structural level. Through the in-depth discussion on the process of social innovation and sustainability, it can be expected that more coherent, sustainable and scalable programs will come along.
Owing to the its unique political status, Taiwan has been unable to participate in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conferences or campaigns held by the United Nations. However, with Social Innovation Congress established under the Legislative Yuan, it is now possible to introduce international practices to Taiwan and, in the meantime, allows Taiwan to take on a more proactive role in the global communities by demonstrating its actions and implementations of SDGs.
With all participants expect to build organic linkages and exchange resources through this platform, the Social Innovation Congress is envisioned to spark the energy of social innovations and to provide more opportunities to solve more social problems and which were previously too difficult to address.