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Mar 2012

2012 lectures: Harnessing the power of social innovation

Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive of Big Society Capital, gave a powerful lecture at the latest Tomorrow’s Value event, at leading city law firm Morrison Foerster.

Big Society Capital will play a critical role in speeding up the growth of the social investment market, and so boost the ability of social enterprises, charities, voluntary and community organisations (collectively ‘the social sector’) to deal with social issues. The organisation is being funded with up to around GBP400 million from dormant bank accounts. An additional GBP200 million will be provided by the four largest UK high street banks.

Nick asserts that theories of market economics that have driven growth, employment, unprecedented technological progress and rampant globalisation over the previous 30 years are being altered in a fundamental and far-reaching way; and that the model of market economics based largely on self-interest has neglected to deal with its own social consequences.

He argues instead for ‘a model that embraces the financial disciplines of market capitalism but also provides opportunity and support for the vulnerable, the dispossessed and the downright unfortunate … Harnessing the power of social innovation must be front and centre in the transformative process underway. We need to unleash a whole new wave of social entrepreneurs and help existing models with proven impact grow to scale much more effectively.’

Nick’s lecture was followed by a fascinating panel discussion, including Susan Mac Cormac, partner, Morrison Foerster and co-chair, California Working Group for New Corporate Forms; Michele Giddens, founder, Bridge Ventures; Nigel Kershaw, chief executive, Big Issue Invest; Julia Grant, portfolio director, Impetus; Jonathan Flory, senior adviser, Social Finance; and Jean Gomm, president, Harvard Business School London Alumni Club.

The evening, attended by around 80 social business leaders from the UK and USA, also saw CIMA chief executive Charles Tilley calling for businesses to focus on the human dimension and ensure they are good corporate citizens.

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Keynote speech

Charles Tilley



Closing speech