Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Social Innovation in British Columbia

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation is committed to supporting and encouraging social innovation and social entrepreneurship in British Columbia. As a member of the BC Partners for Social Impact, the ministry leads the co-ordination of government’s work to promote and support social innovation, to create a legislative and policy framework to maximize social innovation in B.C.

Social innovation refers to new ideas and ways to address complex social problems. Social innovation is, at its heart, about collaboration – of government, business, and community to address society’s most pressing challenges and create better social outcomes.

Social innovation is a way to achieve better results, deliver more effective solutions and improve social outcomes.

April 2014 is Social Enterprise Month in British Columbia

The Government of British Columbia has proclaimed April 2014 as Social Enterprise Month to celebrate the growing social enterprise sector and recognize its contribution to the strength and resiliency of B.C. communities.

Check out the events happening in April and get a sneak peek at B.C.’s future online social innovation community website – coming this summer.

What We’re Doing

In January 2011, the BC Social Innovation Council was created to make recommendations “on how best to maximize social innovation... with an emphasis on social finance and social enterprise.” In March 2012, the Council presented its Action Plan Recommendations to Maximize Social Innovation in British Columbia PDF.

The action plan includes 11 recommendations that together chart out a course of action for the province. The recommendations focus on five key areas:

Supporting Social Enterprise

Social enterprise – a form of social innovation – is a business that invests its profits in a social purpose. The B.C. government is proud to support social enterprises and has included social enterprises in the development of the 2013 Small Business Accord and supports full access of social enterprises to government’s small and medium sized business programs.


Government supports social innovation by creating the legislative and policy framework to help social enterprises move from mission to market. An example of delivering on this recommendation was the amendment of the Business Corporations Act to allow for the creation of the Community Contribution Company, CCC or C3. This is a hybrid business model that combines the traditional benefits of a corporation with a social purpose.

Social Innovation Labs

Work is underway to explore social innovation labs and design processes from around the world and to apply them to social challenges in B.C. Social innovation labs are processes that bring together a variety of people to develop a common understanding of a problem, from which they can design new, innovative solutions. Social innovation labs are being used in many communities around the world to bring together partners to discuss social issues and ways they can leverage their collective resources more effectively to support better social outcomes.

Engaging Communities

Social innovation is about engaging communities and all sectors to come together, collaborate and create new ways to address a social need. In 2012 government co-sponsored “BC Ideas,” an online competition that challenged individuals, businesses, non-profits and others to find solutions that address a variety of social challenges. The result was a total of 466 submissions from 82 communities. In early 2013, a B.C. Aboriginal Social Innovation Competition engaged Aboriginal communities and organizations to generate ideas and concepts that will have a positive social impact in communities.

Learning and Research

The BC Partners for Social Impact includes more than 50 members including a number of post-secondary institutions. One area of focus is engaging universities, colleges and schools to create more opportunities to help students and young people learn about the benefits of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. For example, the University of British Columbia has partnered with Coast Capital Savings to create a Social Innovation Hub to accelerate social venture growth. Simon Fraser University has launched RADIUS, an innovation lab and incubator, and the University of Victoria has established a new Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs.

Based on the recommendations in the Action Plan, the BC Partners for Social Impact was created to carry on the work of the BC Social Innovation Council. The B.C. government co-chairs the BC Partners for Social Impact, which now includes more than 50 multi-sector partners who work collaboratively to implement the recommendations and support social innovation.

Get The Facts

Recent News
Apr 22, 2014 B.C. gets a taste of Aboriginal social enterprise
Apr 15, 2014 Labour market funding supports social enterprise study
Apr 10, 2014 B.C. social enterprises building local communities
Apr 2, 2014 Social enterprises tackling big social challenges
Jul 31, 2013 Labour market funding supports social innovation
Jul 29, 2013 Registration opens for innovative new business model
Jul 15, 2013 Competition showcases innovative ideas for off-reserve Aboriginal communities
Mar 27, 2013 Proclamation honours social enterprises
Mar 2, 2013 Legislative changes encourage investment in social capital
BC Ideas logo

In 2012, government co-sponsored BC Ideas, an online competition that challenged individuals, businesses, non-profits and others to find solutions that address a variety of social challenges. BC Ideas resulted in a total of 466 submissions from 82 communities, with 33 recipients sharing more than $270,000 in funding. Head to for more information.

In November 2011, the B.C. government held its first Non-Profit Partnerships Summit: Collective Impact through Social Innovation. The summit brought together prominent thinkers and leaders from the non-profit, volunteer and business sectors to explore new ways of working together to drive social innovation.

Learn more about social innovation