Innovating for good

This coming week I am fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the Social Innovation Summit West 2016, which is held here in Silicon Valley. The theme of this year’s summit is Business Innovation meets Social Transformation. Personally, I am a firm believer that the only way we can transform society is through innovation.

Given my 30+ years in the technology industry you might think I am talking about technological innovation. While innovative technology can act as an enabler for social transformation, we need innovative financial and business models as well as innovative outside the box thinking to truly enable social transformation.

It is great to see that over 100 traditional venture capitalists from across the US are attending the Social Innovation Summit this year. This will hopefully bring more sustainable thinking into the discussions and drive forward new thinking about how to address the various social issues our world is faced with.

After spending close to a decade, first in a corporate social responsibility role at Microsoft, and then within the non-profit world, leading the emergency response efforts on NetHope, a consortium of 50 leading international NGOs, I felt that in order to truly find new and more sustainable ways to drive social transformation, I needed to gain a deeper understanding of how transformation is happening in other sectors. This is why I took on the role of Chief Technology Officer of Beringer Finance, the largest technology focused investment bank in Europe, where my mission is to drive transformation in a sector, investment banking, that has not seen much change in over half a century.

We live at challenging, yet interesting times. Just like the industrial revolution brought about changes over a century ago, the digital transformation we are experiencing is changing the world before our eyes. Some of these changes are positive in nature, while others create more challenges and extend the gap between those that are able to embrace those changes and those that can’t. The recent presidential elections in the US showed us precisely how many people fear the continued effects of globalization.

It is therefore more important now than ever before, that all of us that understand the opportunities of innovation and it’s power to transform, openly discuss together how we can ensure everyone can benefit from the social transformation ahead of us. We must think outside of the box and explore new ways to drive positive social transformation. We must adapt new and sustainable models for addressing the toughest social issues we are faced with. We must bring together the smart financial minds, the smart technological minds, as well as the smart sociological minds to come up with approaches that truly enable positive social transformation worldwide.

I very much look forward to meeting up with colleagues from the venture world, corporate social responsibility world, non-profit world, and aspiring social entrepreneur world this week to take this discussion to the next level. Together we not only can, but will change the world!

Published November 14th 2016 at LinkedIn

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