Social Enterprise & Innovation

Social Enterprise & Innovation

By Alex Sanderson


On Friday, I was lucky enough to co-present a lecture on Science and the Society to University of Bristol students. The lecture covered social entrepreneurship and innovation. Here is a short summary:   


Social Entrepreneurship

In a nutshell, entrepreneurship is about designing, launching and running a business. Enterprises aim to solve problems by creating value and saving time for their customers.

However, when entrepreneurs create solutions for economic growth, human development and global challenges like climate change, they are social entrepreneurs. Their businesses pursue both profit and purpose: when social enterprises profit, society profits. 



How do social enterprises actually create these solutions? Innovation!

Innovation is a new method, idea or product that provides a solution to a problem. Social enterprises create or utilise innovations in order to solve or reduce economic, social and environmental needs. 

One example is Boyan Slat, founder of the Ocean Cleanup. Slat created an efficient and inexpensive new solution to ocean garbage patches. See the video below.

The Power of Youth

Young people are incredibly important in creating and implementing innovative ideas. Slat was only 19 years old when he began Ocean Cleanup, then an engineering student at university.

It is commonly said that an entrepreneur is a risk taker. The same is said for young people: we’re resilient, energetic and willing to take risks. More importantly, younger generations are also more likely to be passionate activists for social and environmental change.

As a result, young people are ideal social entrepreneurs. The ideas we have at school or university may well become the innovations of the future and, even better, the social enterprises creating positive economic, social and environmental impacts around the world. 


Vestability is a part of Enactus Bristol. If you are a university student with an entrepreneurial or innovative mind, check out your local Enactus team. Here is video to tell you more: 

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Ghandi
Alex Sanderson