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Where’s the collaboration between Startups and the Third Sector?

Recently I was invited to participate in a round table discussion hosted by Nesta and facilitated by Nesta and Impact Shakers, on why there seems to be little happening in terms of collaboration between startups and the third sector for the purpose of innovation.

The hesitation of the development world to engage with the startup sector is rather surprising and lags behind the extensive collaborative programmes in place within the corporate sector.  As someone who is involved in both sectors, I feel that now is the time to act on developing collaborative innovation programmes.  The work of the third sector is very much focused on the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and I have spoken at a number of global conferences on the topic of innovation, creativity and achievement of the SDGs.  Clearly these goals will not be met without the aid of innovation and those channels of innovation, the startups.  

This is not to say that innovation is not happening in the development sector, there are many examples of some fresh thinking in terms of technical improvements to infrastructure projects, but innovation is not just about technology, it encompasses fresh approaches to business models, challenging assumptions and embracing new and diverse partnerships.

Whether in the corporate or development sector, innovation needs diverse thinking, collaboration and partnerships outside of the usual sphere of engagement.  Organisations have long talked about the need to ‘break down silos’ when addressing internal cultural change – this awareness is also needed at a macro level.  Managing multiple stakeholders is not easy, I often think we need a 3 dimensional model to describe what is required to bring about those most impactful relationships, but with a common purpose and an eye to making progress on the SDGs, this is achieveable.

For more information on the round table discussion see this blog on Nesta’s website.

(Elaine is Co-Founder of Global Entrepreneurship Network UK, and Global Advisor of GEN, and Trustee of Partners.NGO)

#startups  #entrepreneurship   #thirdsector

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