Social Enterprise Update: The First "Social Silicon Valley"

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<p>Recently, another blogger at Just Means wrote a piece proposing pillars of a new <a href="allthings/393/The-Inspired-Economy.html">Inspired Economy</a> for the future.&nbsp; It's a great piece, throwing some light on dark economic times.</p>
<p>It also made me think about something new happening in the field of social enterprise:&nbsp; the creation of dedicated social enterprise campuses.&nbsp; A recent article in the Guardian highlighted a new company in Spain that is trying to build the world's first "<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/07/spain-basque-co-operative-... Silicon Valley." </a>&nbsp;Talk about inspiring.&nbsp; No room for thinking small in an economic downturn for these entrepreneurs, who rightly see more need than ever for businesses that are trying to improve their communities as a primary mission.&nbsp;</p>
<p>Carlos Fern&aacute;ndez Isoird and Inigo Urkidi started Business Innovation Brokers (BIB) to create what they claim will be the world's first industrial park for <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/socialenterprises">social enterprises</a> and co-operatives. It hopes to attract to the campus-style park new start-up social businesses, alongside non-governmental organisations, foundations and institutions from around the world that promote and support social enterprise. A school of social innovation will provide a research and development function for the park's occupants.</p>
<p>&nbsp;Apparently, the Basque region in Spain, where they propose to site the campus, has a long history of supporting co-operatives. These co-operatives use business methods and practices to reach social goals.&nbsp; According to the article, "hundreds of co-ops have set up all over the region, attracted by generous tax allowances in return for investing 10% of their annual surpluses in the local community to support education, cultural activities and youth employment."</p>
<p>Spain isn't the only place where new social innovation campuses are planned for the future.&nbsp; According to Geoff Mulgan, director of the Young Foundation and co-author of How to Innovate: the Tools for Social Innovation, the concept is taking off, with similar business parks expected in Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and possibly Russia.</p>
<p>Seems like a good model to look at if we want to grow a new, Inspired Economy.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
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