The Beedie School of Business has established a new, interdisciplinary social-innovation lab and venture incubator that aims to change business education and launch high-impact solutions to social challenges.
Dubbed RADIUS (radical ideas, useful to society), the initiative brings together students from all faculties across SFU to develop and nurture practical solutions to pressing social problems and provide opportunities for deeper learning.
RADIUS already has a number of projects ongoing, including one in which students are working with Ecotrust Canada to help trace and certify forest products and evaluate their economic and environmental impacts.
Leading the incubator are co-founders David Dunne, the organization’s chair and an SFU Beedie senior fellow, and RADIUS director and adjunct professor, Shawn Smith. The pair has a strong track record in innovation education and venture incubation.
Dunne, formerly with U of T’s Rotman School of Management, is an award-winning business educator who launched multi-million dollar products as a business manager and consults to multi-nationals on design and customer experience.
“Wicked problems are pervasive in business and society—they are critical, chronic and have no clear start or end point,” says Dunne.
“RADIUS will teach students to rethink problems from the ground up, empathize with those affected and create radical, sustainable opportunities.”
Smith is a globally recognized social entrepreneur. Last year, he launched the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at SFU Beedie. It has gone on to produce a number of social ventures such as a cultural experience company employing immigrant women and a transportation sharing community.
“At RADIUS, we know that big ideas are great, but pressing social issues demand action,” says Smith.
“Instead of solving pre-digested cases, RADIUS students will encounter the messy real world, come up with creative solutions and then move them to implementation.”
Says dean Daniel Shapiro: "As a business school we have made a longstanding commitment to social innovation and entrepreneurship. This is a great example of learning that is adaptive, interactive and highly experiential."