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Students using a new framework for social innovation

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Students using a new framework for social innovation

How can universities challenge students to address global issues through social entrepreneurship?

Problem solvers swear by one approach to innovation: Failure. Fail fast, figure out what’s broken, pivot, and try, fail, try again. Failure is an opportunity to dig deeper, change our perspective, and develop a new better idea to test.

University students are trying to learn the role of business in social impact in a classroom, but social entrepreneurs must move beyond the chalkboard as quickly as possible. And one of the first steps of any enterprise is identifying a problem and the right solution.

The Archimedes Project takes on this challenge in its Ideation Labs, hackathon-style weekends dedicated to creating a social business solutions to issues of clean water and sanitation around the world.

No two Ideation Labs are the same. Each Lab focuses on one country and the sanitation or clean water challenge specific to that context. The participants are split into teams that are intentionally diverse, with people coming together from across sectors to bring their unique perspectives to creating a scalable, sustainable and market-driven approach to a complex problem.

Often we learn and work in silos. However, innovative Ideation comes from challenging dogma by crossing sectors. Universities are uniquely positioned to take this approach and an Ideation Lab provides a framework for doing so.

Moving beyond the classroom

Students come together from different disciplines to solve a real world problem while using (and challenging) what they have learned in class. The Ideation Lab environment gives teams direct access to local knowledge by bringing in professionals with real world expertise in the target country and in social enterprise design. Participants are challenged to take what they have learned in the classroom and integrate it with the experience of the mentors and advisors at the Ideation lab. This struggle helps them to develop a deeper understanding of the problem…

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