While Western societies increasingly recognize social innovation, and its importance for the growth and well being of communities, there is still a wide gap between the scale of the problems we face and the scale of the available solutions. Businesses spend big money on innovation, but governments spend far less on systematically developing innovative solutions to common needs. Social innovation is not unique to the nonprofit sector; politics and government need to drive and orchestrate more systematic change. Because social disparities have become greater, creating equal opportunities and promoting strong participation in the political, social, and economic spheres is an urgent task for politicians and civil society alike.

I recently moderated the Social Innovation Dialogues, a series of four expert roundtables on international practices to create and diffuse social innovation and implications for policymaking. The roundtables took place in Berlin and were hosted by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Vodafone Foundation Germany. The general aim of this series was to look at ways that governments can improve the climate for innovation, particularly with regard to mechanisms used to systematically scale social innovation.

The Social Innovation Dialogues looked specifically at initiatives in the United Kingdom, Denmark, the United States, and the European Union to learn and explore ideas around how government can catalyze, raise awareness, and develop innovation that creates social impact.

The following four videos share some key moments from the convening:

Simon Tucker of the Young Foundation discusses the UK’s approach to encouraging and diffusing social innovation.


Søren Eikers, project manager at MindLab (Denmark) shares processes that allow social innovation to be part of the political agenda.


Grégoire Schöller , member of cabinet of EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, Mirjam Schöning, head of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, discuss the potential of social innovation to rejuvenate Europe’s market economy.


Helmut Anheier, professor of Sociology und Dean der Hertie School of Governance, shares his perspective on what Europe can learn from the US on social innovation.