The Certificate Program for Community Economic Development at SFU is hosting its new course “Social Innovation Challenge” on May 27 & 28 at the historic Dodson Conference Centre.

At the end of the collab-etition, four teams will share a $25,000 prize donated by the Dragonfly Fund at Tides Canada.

Participants in the challenge come from all over – Yukon, Montreal, Barcelona, Tofino, Calgary, Ymir, the Downtown Eastside and Victoria to name a few. They are champions for a local living economies and work in social enterprise, non-profits, business associations, credit unions and municipal government.

They all share a passion for hastening in the transition to a new economy – one that values people, places and the planet.

Why A Social Innovation Challenge?

The financial system favours projects with short-term financial returns, while local living economy efforts create long-term cultural, social, economic and ecological returns. This social innovation challenge will amplify the work of current participants in the community economic development program.

Participants will be invited to reflect on this experience and, in particular, consider if a ‘Social Innovation Challenge’ is a methodolgy participants will find valuable to replicate in their own communities to foster innovation in the community economic development movement. The survey results will be published on our website pronto.  We will also publish the stories of the challenge.


At the CHALLENGE, we intend to craft an experience of rapid prototyping, project design and community mobilization as an alternative to traditional planning processes. Up to 40 students will deliver 90 second pitches and the cohort will select four projects to work on in teams for the following two days. At the end of the challenge four teams will share $25,000 to go towards their projects.


Projects will be designed to create the following impacts:

  • Increase the number of locally-owned ventures;
  • Increase self-reliance in the economy, measured by an increase in the diversity of locally-owned businesses, trade between locally-owned businesses, and localized supply chains;
  • Prioritize triple-bottom line or blended-value organizations and/or initiatives; and will also,
  • Raise the profile and influence of local living economy leaders;
  • Have existing traction (this challenge will have the greatest impact by focusing on those initiatives that are already rolling and will generate increased momentum, speed and resources with a push); and
  • Practice using the ideas, materials and approaches introduced throughout the program.

These guidelines will serve as the project evaluation criteria to evaluate and shortlist projects.