Faculty & Research
The School
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Social innovation: what it is, why it matters and how it can be accelerated

Authors: Geoff Mulgan with Simon Tucker, Rushanara Ali and Ben Sanders

Skoll Centre Working Paper, 2007

The results of social innovation are all around us.

Self-help health groups and self-build housing; telephone help lines and telethon fundraising; neighbourhood nurseries and neighbourhood wardens; Wikipedia and the Open University; complementary medicine, holistic health and hospices; microcredit and consumer cooperatives; charity shops and the fair trade movement; zero carbon housing schemes and community wind farms; restorative justice and community courts. All are examples of social innovation – new ideas that work to meet pressing unmet needs and improve peoples’ lives.

This report is about how we can improve societies’ capacities to solve their problems. It is about old and new methods for mobilising the ubiquitous intelligence that exists within any society.

Download the full paper:


Innovation is often given complex definitions.  We prefer the simple one: 'new ideas that work'.

More actionable insight

We work with faculty at the University of Oxford and beyond, with social entrepreneurs and with their supporting ecosystem to affect a positive impact on the world's most challenging social and environmental problems.