MacEwan University launches Social Innovation Institute

May 15, 2018 | Society

A place where real social change happens


No matter how good, clever or noble an idea may be, it can only take you so far. Creating change or achieving great things means taking action.

But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Cost, red tape, a lack of time or resources, poor community support, and just plain not knowing where to begin, can stop an idea in its tracks.

Enter MacEwan University’s new Social Innovation Institute.

The Social Innovation Institute connects people who have big ideas with the resources they need to bring that idea to life, including working space, technical resources, workshops and, most importantly, like-minded people. The institute will specifically focus on developing ideas that promote social innovation and social enterprise. 

Social Innovation 101

Social innovation:
The use of new or novel solutions to effectively tackle social issues and drive change. Social innovation seeks to solve problems at their root and avoid “band-aid” solutions.

Social enterprise:
A business operation run by a not-for-profit or for-profit organization, that operates in a socially responsible way, or aims to create positive social impact.

Social entrepreneurship:
The practice of transformative and financially sustainable innovations aimed at solving social problems.

Social entrepreneur:
Someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to create social change.


“We are looking to work with people, from within the university and the community, who have a seed of an idea for a project or business start-up that has a social or environmental angle to it,” explains Leo Wong, assistant professor in the School of Business and founding director of the institute. “We’ll connect them with the means to really flesh out those ideas and create positive change.”

The Social Innovation Institute is partnered with Roundhouse, an innovative co-working space at MacEwan, to create a community of changemakers. Roundhouse membership is open to students, faculty members and staff at MacEwan, as well as individuals and organizations from the broader community. According to Leo, businesses, nonprofits and government organizations can benefit from the diverse perspectives offered by the programs, workshops and events that the institute will host.

“When businesses and governments are trying to tackle complex problems, whether it be homelessness or transit development, it’s valuable to have an objective third party help with identifying, testing and implementing solutions,” he says. “We can facilitate connections with students, subject matter experts in our faculties and other stakeholders who are focused on solving social or environmental problems.”

Leo believes that the key to institute’s success will be fostering a sense of community around tackling complex issues. "It grounds all of us to think that we have something in common — that together we can work on overcoming some of the challenges we face. It's not up to one group, or even a different generation, to do that — it's on all of us as a group."

For the latest information, programming and projects happening at the Social Innovation Institute, or to get started on bringing an idea to life, visit

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