Thursday, March 7, 2013

Social Innovation Shared Space (SISS) in London

Guest Blogger: Shannon Cross, Pillar Intern, Western University MIT program

Participating in Community Solutions

In an effort to continue facilitating the development of a social innovation shared space (SISS) within the London community, Pillar Nonprofit Network and Emerging Leaders collaborated to bring a second Design Jam workshop to the Goodwill Centre this past week. This time, the focus moved beyond simply a broad vision of the shared space to a more concrete framework pertaining to feasibility, target markets, and possible locations for the building itself.

Five community advocates shared their visions of a shared space, acting as facilitators for the discussion of the 4 P’s: People, Place, Price, and Partners. Topics included who the space will be for, what the physical space will look like, the potential revenue streams needed to fund the project, and finally who some of the important partners will be in maintaining the long-term sustainability of the centre.

One of the most prominent topics of the day was feasibility since in order to be successful the centre must utilize a business model and develop ongoing revenue streams even though the centre itself will be focused primarily on social prosperity.

Below are some points of discussion relating to feasibility and revenue pertaining to the shared space for social innovation (SISS) currently blossoming here in London. Many of these considerations are very much applicable to other social enterprise initiatives, so feel free to think critically and offer your opinions on the benefits or disadvantages of each of these models.  

A Model of Feasibility:
  • Premium model –where anchor tenants provide primary revenue through rent and elite services in order to sustain the smaller members who need and use less space
  • In-filling of pre-existing buildings within the downtown core
  • Social enterprise model for sustainability– act as home for numerous small organizations that provide services and do good in the community, but also feed into the building costs (e.g. a yoga studio, coffee shops, daycare centre)
  • Government funding – possibility for program support rather than being a primary partner to alleviate exclusivity and potential micro-management
  • Philanthropist donations and sponsors – including SISS alumni “giving back” or mentoring new tenants
  • Renting facility assets for profit – including performance theatre, parking spaces, conference rooms, and services
  • Own the building – may be more profitable and sustainable in the long run due minimized costs
  • Tenant rental and membership to fund the centre and the services available
  • Focus on inclusivity rather than exclusivity – sponsorship from multiple partners rather than only one in order to maintain the values of the space
  • City building budget – setting aside a percentage of the city budget for social innovation projects

The next Design Jam takes place on March 19th from 530 to 730pm at the Goodwill Centre in London and will serve as a public consultation. 

If you are interested in attending this event, please feel free to register here: Please continue to tweet #designsiss with your ongoing ideas for this space!