Powering Innovation

Magnus Sandberg,Vice President and General Manager for Social Capital Partners in Toronto, expresses his idea of innovation as a World’s Cup sailboat.  He spoke recently at part of our communityBUILD Speaker’s Series where he spoke about, “The Quest for Social Impact – Social Entrepreneurship from an Investor’s Perspective

I thought the iconic image of a sailboat was such a powerful icon, not only for the beauty and power of its design but because the boat and the organization around it embody innovation (and lots of money!).  How?

Artemis Racing AC45F

First outing on the new AC45F. Artemis Racing. 14th of July, 2015, Portsmouth, UK

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So What’s communityBUILD?


I want to share the launch of communityBUILD with you.   Why is it worth sharing?  Because I believe that it has the potential to bring more social ventures to market that begin to generate revenue and social impact.  It will do this in two ways.

Firstly, the focus of the initiative is to catalyze a social innovation ecosystem in York Region, not just provide programming for social venture start-ups. An ecosystem provides the essential fertile soil of supports, expertise, networks, education and resources in which social ventures can grow.

The strongest entrepreneurs will reach into the ecosystem to get what he/she needs.  The process is unpredictable and organic but provides a stronger opportunity for resourceful entrepreneurs to succeed. We see this time and time again at ventureLAB, York Region’s Regional Innovation Centre just north of Toronto.

Compass, formerly the Start-Up Genome, has demonstrated the power of venture ecosystems in the technology sector like those in Silicon Valley, Israel or Kitchener-Waterloo.   It is worth reading their reports; they’re free.

Secondly, communityBUILD has developed out of the work and collaboration of its four founding partners – York University, Seneca College, ventureLAB and United Way Toronto and York Region.  It brings together the different expertise, networks and perspectives of academia, business and entrepreneurship and community development that will, collectively, begin to seed the ecosystem.

Stay tuned.  I will share more on the initiative in future blogs.




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A Memorable, Mind-Blowing Experience

Team Pic

Pictured on the left is the extraordinary group of competitors I met at The Canadian Global Impact Competition.   The event is the brainchild of Singularity University in Silicon Valley and takes place in 19 countries each year; Canada’s version happened on April 2nd at the Markham Civic Centre.  What you see is five social entrepreneurs who were addressing the challenge, “How can we improve the standard of living for one million Canadians within the next three to five years through the use of technology?” Continue reading

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Six Lessons Learned From Failure

Famous-Motivational-Quotes-and-Sayings-about-Failure-–-Fail-–-Failures-–-Try-Again-Failure-is-only-the-opportunity-to-begin-again.-Only-this-time-more-wisely.-Henry-FordFailure of your venture is difficult to envisage as the idea behind it seems so powerful.  This is especially the case at start-up before you and your venture have been tested by trying to sell your service or product.

However, data proves that a the failure rate of ventures is high.  Entrepreneurship is tough.  Research published on Statistic Brain provides a summary of failures by industry as well as their primary causes.  This is useful intelligence. Continue reading

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The Power of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding_Future-618x400Crowdfunding has reached a tipping point in terms of virality and impact.  That was clear to me when I attended the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada’s (NCFA) full-day conference at MaRSdd in Toronto on March 3 2015.   Continue reading

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Tackling Complexity

No Man Is An IslandThe Challenge of Complexity

I am facing the challenge of complexity in helping to build an initiative  in York Region (a region of nine municiaplities with over 1 million residents north of Toronto) called communityBUILD.   Our social mission is to support the growth of social enterprises focused on generating lasting impact on two grand challenges:  youth unemployment and food insecurity. Continue reading

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Equip Yourself for The Challenge of a Lifetime

everest-summit-2010There is no more challenging a career route to take than that of an entrepreneur.  The personal pressures, the loneliness, the financial demands and the uncertainty can be overwhelming at times.  But like getting to the top of Mount Everest, the rewards can be deep and life-changing….if the challenges don’t kill you first! Continue reading

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What differentiates a Social Entrepreneur?

entrepreneurWhat is the difference between a “traditional” entrepreneur and a social entrepreneur (no matter your definition of “social entrepreneur)?  Virtually no difference.  I would like to tear down the walls between the two; they’re simplistic divisions and hide the fact that there is so much overlap.  The personal qualities that are necessary to succeed, the skills required and the challenges faced are the same.  And there is much they could learn from each other if they shared their knowledge and experience. Continue reading

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The Crucible and Impact

crucibleA Crucible:  A place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new.  The process entails a severe test or trial. In industry, it is a container where metals are mixed at high temperature to create a new material.

To have impact, ideas need to rub up against other opinions. They must be tested in the crucible of debate and experimentation. Continue reading

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