HKU Launches “Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities” Programme

The Social and Entrepreneurship and Civic Action Lab of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has launched the “Social Innovations for Sustainable Communities” (SISC) Programme today (9 November 2019). The aim of the programme is to foster a culture of social innovation in Hong Kong.

With support from the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), the three-year programme aims to enrich and expand the frontier of the ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong with a view to preparing the community for meeting long-term local sustainability challenges, and crowdsourcing ideas and actions through incubating a corps of intergenerational “sustainability catalyzers” consisting of young professionals and retirees.

Professor Wai-Fung Lam, Director, Centre for Civil Society and Governance, HKU, and Mr Barry Kwong, Regional Head, Sustainable Networks and Entrepreneurship, Corporate Sustainability, Asia Pacific, HSBC, officiated the launch.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Lam said, “Social innovation pertains to a commitment to problem-based solutions, a keen interest in the value-creation process which generates, blends, and synergizes social and economic values. The SISC programme not only involves and connects the government, businesses, nonprofits and community groups for collective action, but also entails critical re-thinking of how existing processes of resource allocation and utilization can be reconfigured to create new possibilities and blended values”.

Mr Kwong said, “Low carbon innovation is particularly important for the future. It has to start from our daily life in supporting the transition to a sustainable production and consumption model. We are not only improving the existing products and services, but also delivering the change of the existing value chains to the consumers. Social and sustainable innovations are leading our way for the future of our community.”

Results of a territorial-wide survey on Hong Kong sustainability visions for 2030-2050 and the community awareness on social entrepreneurship were also released at the event (see annex for result highlights). This was followed by a sharing session on major issues of social innovation and sustainability with Mr Kwong and other distinguished guest speakers, including Dr Kevin Lau Chung-hang, member of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund Task Force; Ms Vanessa Cheung, Group Managing Director of Nan Fung Development Ltd. and Founder of The Mills; and Mr Alvin Li, Co-Founder and CEO of The Kommon Goods.

Activities of the SISC programme include a Learning Programme which identifies, inspires, and incubates a corps of “sustainability catalyzers” as social entrepreneurs in different sustainability domains; and Design Thinking Workshops which help the participants nurture innovative ideas and develop their own ventures to cope with sustainability challenges. Promising “sustainability catalyzers” will be provided with a seed grant to kick-start or scale up the social innovations.

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