Our social innovators already halfway through the Civic Incubator process

“The program is dense and requires a significant commitment from innovators that goes beyond the 15 hours of workshops and coaching each week. The fact that they are still all fully invested in their social innovation project and ready to work hard is very positive and shows this cohort’s level of motivation,” says Marc-André Delorme, project coordinator at the Maison de l’innovation sociale.

The role of the MIS Civic Incubator

Designed to foster the emergence of social innovations to respond to complex societal problems experienced in urban areas, the Civic Incubator supports citizens who have an idea with a strong social and environmental impact, but who are still in the ideation phase. 

“The Civic Incubator is a must for any engaged citizen who wants to build on a solid foundation to evolve their concept to a level of maturity sufficient to move to the financing phase and the first deployment of the project,” says Hugo Steben, director of the social entrepreneurship at the MIS. Because they have had the opportunity to test and validate their concepts, the innovators, at the end of their career at the MIS, will be equipped to continue the development of their project with four key elements in hand: the conviction that their project will have the expected social and environmental impact; an optimal deployment strategy; an understanding of the role they wish to play and the scale at which they wish to operate; and an increased ability to cope with the obstacles that lie ahead.”

A social innovation workshop day

Through training sessions, mentoring, coaching and practical workshops, the MIS offers its expertise and that of its partners to equip participants. On this Friday in October, participants are invited to, for example, reflect on their impact strategy. In a concrete manner, innovators work around the notion of empathy and draw a portrait of those who will be affected by the experience they offer. Who is their project aimed at? Who are the stakeholders to mobilize? What activities must be deployed to address the issues of the problem? What are the performance indicators that will enable reporting on the expected impact? What scale of impact are they are willing to commit to? Do they want to reach 50, 1,000 or 10,000 people? What are the upcoming hurdles and activities to orchestrate to deliver the experience they’ve imagined? These are all questions that make it possible to foster success and, consequently, the impact of the project.

In this respect, one of the participants of the Civic Incubator, Marie-Philip Roy-Lasselle, of the Q. Wow project says, “With the tools and exercises used in the Civic Incubator program, we’re able to challenge not only our potential for deployment by questioning ourselves about the impacts, but also our potential as a project leader.” Having the humility to question your own project and yourself as a project leader while demonstrating resilience is certainly one of the key learnings of this course!

It’s also through the practical exercises and exchanges between the participants that they notice the emergence of transformative results, as Laurence Sauvageau-Fresco from the L’Oasis project affirms: “The various exercises proposed are concrete and I can clearly see the relevance for the development of our project. I particularly appreciated the richness and value of working within a cohort because it allowed me to become aware of the diversity of everyone’s viewpoints, interpretations and perceptions.” 

She concludes: “At the end of every day of training at the Civic Incubator, I have new practical tools and actionable insights to continue to move forward!” 

By the late afternoon, Hugo Steben is visibly proud of his troupe of innovators. “Ultimately, I hope that, with so many engaged and well-equipped innovators in each cohort, they will help drive change and build a culture of social innovation in Québec society to respond collectively and inclusively to the emerging challenges facing cities!” If, like us, you’re looking forward to seeing what lies ahead, stay tuned!

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