Universities are hubs of brainpower and youth energy.

They have long harnessed these resources to achieve breakthroughs in research, while educating students with the knowledge needed to drive economic growth. Through government and industry collaborations, Universities play a key role in fueling innovation and technological progress.

Universities have only recently begun to capitalise on this same potential for social innovation and enterprise. In 2009, UnLtd and HEFCE forged a partnership to deliver the Higher Education Social Entrepreneurship (HE SE) Awards to realise the potential of social entrepreneurship in Higher Education in the United Kingdom. This 7-year collaboration has worked with 86 Universities and helped create over 1,500 new social ventures across universities up and down the United Kingdom.

More than helping set up new social ventures, Universities can become hubs of social innovation. They can support social enterprise by evaluating the impact of different models and disseminating relevant research findings.

The Stanford d.school’s Stanford2025 project envisioned a future where students declare “missions” and not just majors. Having a mission, coupled with a discipline of study, would give students the opportunity to pursue meaning and impact through studies and projects.

In what ways do you think universities can best support social innovation & entrepreneurship?