Social innovation network sparks knowledge exchange between universities in East Asia and the UK

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SILKEN (Social Innovation Linkages for Knowledge Exchange Network) aims to develop a long term, sustainable social innovation network of knowledge exchange between universities in the UK and East Asia.

In partnership with the British Council, SILKEN is a partnership between Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Northampton, Challenges Group and Social Enterprise Academy, and is funded by British Council. It will be delivered from November 2020 until March 2021 through a series of virtual events, workshops and conferences.

As part of the programme, SEA will deliver a series of workshops which support academics and practitioners to reflect on how they engage around innovation:

  • Co-creating new ways of Academics and Practitioners working together
  • Developing key skills around engagement
  • Piloting this new approach to academic support for innovation

SILKEN is centred on five complementary components which were identified based upon the recommendations made in the Social Innovation in Higher Education (SIHE) project that was recently completed by the British Council in July 2020.

  1. Research (UON/GCU) - Creating research pools based around specific thematic areas (e.g. community engagement, social entrepreneurship, financing social innovation, measuring social impact.
  2. Capacity Building (SEA/GCU/UoN) - Workshops for academics and HEI staff wishing to embed undergraduate/postgraduate social innovation modules within their universities or undertake social innovation research; and ii) practitioners and representatives of communities to create greater practice based learning and exchange.
  3. Knowledge Exchange (CHA/GCU) - A virtual platform for incubation and co-creation which matches local and international partners to ensure university expertise supports the social innovation ecosystem. This area will also be used to establish a pipeline for virtual micro-internships, whereby students and graduates can contribute their skills to short-term projects.
  4. Network and Platform (GCU) – A networking hub for project participants to engage with other actors from the UK and Asia, as well as in other networks established by the partners.
  5. Sustainability and Quality (GCU/UoN) – At the end of the project a report will be written laying out plans for the establishment of a long-term network. This will provide a roadmap for how the SILKEN network can be further developed in the coming years including calls to action for the sector.

Jess Kemp, International Projects Manager at the Social Enterprise Academy said:

“The SILKEN Project is vital in connecting HEI Academics and Social Innovation Practitioners across Asia and the UK, around the most pressing social challenges of today. We are hugely grateful to British Council for providing the opportunity to work with such a strong cohort of partners around the globe, both from Academia as well as those providing solutions to social challenges on the ground.”


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