FRANCISCA VARGAS //
Instituto de Innovación Social, la Universidad del Desarrollo //
July 13th 2017 //
I met Francisca in la Universidad del Desarrollo, thanks to an introduction from Vincente Lorca. Francisca works at the Instituto de Innovación Social which is inside the university.
The Institute was formed in 2012, with a team of 2 people. They started developing research in the area of social innovation in the region, and worked alongside a PHD student who was working in the same area.
They now focus on the development of the students, identifying “change makers” and supporting them to develop their practice and their ideas in line with tackling the social issues in Chile.
They are currently working on a programme called “Commons” with Ashoka, “to become a change making campus”. Francisca describes Ashoka as the engine for their change.
They are also part of the LASIN which is a Latin American Social Innovation Network, supported by the European Union.
They are also part of MINKA which is a networked social innovation conference in the region, also in association with Ashoka.
Being networked and creating networks across the country, the region and the world is an important part of their work.
Another aspect of Francisca’s work is training and consultancy.
They run a social innovation course which is open to all students, across all subjects. They collaborate with the business school, so their training also involves how to be social business consultants, as well as entrepreneurs.
They offer a mentoring programme for students who are doing work with a social focus, and they have an incubator to help support developing ideas.
With the consultancy, the team, work across the university to look at how social innovation could be part of all aspects of the work. They try and make connections and see bridges between disciplines and academic areas.
All innovation should be social, everything new should have a sense of responsibility for its social context
When I asked Francisca what the important issues were for her in Chile, she listed:
_ Violence against women
_ Gender inequality
_ Access to education
_ Environmental sustainability
Quite a range.
“Not every student should be an entrepreneur, but we can all be change makers”