Ontario’s Social Innovation Policy Paper is the result of a bold experiment in open policy development. While most policy papers are drafted behind closed doors by a select team of experts, in this case citizens, non-profit organizations, businesses and government collaborated online and offline to co-create a policy framework for social innovation in the province of Ontario.

The process began with a Social Innovation Summit hosted by SiG@MaRS on May 16, 2011. Working in partnership, the event was organized by four parties:

The Summit brought together over 200 business, government and community leaders to learn from one another about social innovation, to advance their thinking and to build effective partnerships to resolve social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges in Ontario and beyond.

The Summit was just the beginning of a conversation that continued for several weeks on a public wiki. As with Wikipedia, contributors throughout Ontario could add or edit entries or simply read and comment on what others had written.

The Social Innovation Summit enabled attendees to discuss what social innovation is, particularly within the context of Ontario, and lay out a critical path toward a “made-in-Ontario” social innovation strategy. The Social Innovation Wiki was used to capture the discussion of the Summit attendees and online contributors.

The collaboration between the different organizational partners resulted in access to an extensive network of social innovation leaders that assisted in populating the wiki. Tools to attract contributors included Twitter, blogs and an online chat. The resulting policy paper was prepared on behalf of SiG@MaRS and the Government of Ontario by Anthony Williams, an Ontario-based author, consultant and social innovator.

Broader participation leads to better and more diverse ideas

Ontario’s Social Innovation Wiki, which is the first of its kind, had a central purpose to allow the public to interact and contribute thoughts and ideas to policy development. The guiding principle that drove its creation is that broader participation leads to better and more diverse ideas.

Through its implementation, it is clear that successful social innovation comes from individuals and communities. The creativity and engagement required to succeed needs to grow up out of collaborative partnerships and conversations.

Download the policy paper here:

Ontario’s social innovation draft policy

Download (pdf)

The Case Studies in Social Innovation database is a joint initiative between SiG @ MaRS and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.