'The ultimate winners will be the citizens of Guipúzkoa.'
The Diputación de Guipúzkoa, part of the Basque Autonomous Region, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have signed an agreement to create a Social Innovation Centre. Managed by LSE Enterprise in its design and development stages, the project aims to build social capital and increase competitiveness in the region.
The Diputación has allocated €600,000 for LSE Enterprise to create the Centre, which aims to strengthen the development, competitiveness and welfare of Guipúzkoa. In addition to its international links, the Centre will build on local networks and will focus on specific projects. It will encourage a management model based on effective organisational structures and behaviour, with programmes aiming to develop individuals and teams within companies in Guipúzkoa.
Dr Alexander Grous from the LSE's Centre of Economic Performance's (CEP) Productivity and Innovation team will be the project director and team leader.
He says 'While the Centre will be multi-faceted and bring together elements that can nurture the development of local organisations, its core ethos is the transfer of appropriate skills and practices that can foster the long term social and economic prosperity of the region.
'Although innovation is not always about people, it is people who make innovation possible. Centres like this recognise the embedded link between economic and social development and represent an investment in the region's future innovative potential.
'Changing or enhancing organisations starts at the top, with their management practices. LSE's considerable research through the CEP in this area provides an applied base to draw upon as part of a wider holistic programme that equips firm managers with appropriate tools to develop their businesses further.'
LSE Director Howard Davies and the Governor of Guipúzkoa, Markel Olano, signed the agreement on 2 June 2010. The project will be completed within three years, becoming financially self-sufficient from 2012. During this year, LSE Enterprise will help undertake detailed planning for the Centre, analysing comparative global experiences to create suitable structural and funding models. In 2011, the Centre will develop a portfolio of clients through six pilot programmes, monthly social innovation workshops and the planned launch of 30 projects. This will be followed by an effectiveness and impact evaluation and the transition to becoming self financing.
'Ultimately,' says Dr Grous, 'this Centre is a great example of how collaboration between government, academia and industry can be channelled to develop social and economic prosperity, through the creation of learning organisations that adapt and thrive in an enhanced competitive environment. The ultimate winners will be the citizens of Guipúzkoa.'