#15, December 2023


Top picks from Raccords and our guests

The contributors to Issue #15 of Raccords—Julie-Maude Normandin, Miquel de Paladella, and Roselyne Clément —share their favourite resources furthering our explorations of levers for social innovation in and within the public sector.

Recommendations to inspire us

  1. Maya Shankar’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team initiative
    Our guest Julie-Maude Normandin draws our attention to the career of neuroscientist Maya Shankar, in particular to the team of scientists she assembled and led within the White House. Under President Barack Obama, this project sought to apply social- and behavioral-science insights to the political sphere. From 2015 to 2017, the group worked with more than two dozen US federal agencies on mandates ranging from alleviating student debt to improving the healthcare system for veterans.
  2. The Rikx platform
    Our guest Miquel de Paladella invites us to discover Rikx, a new and transformative solution developed by the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to encourage cities to imagine bold, replicable innovations, Rikx is a platform for investing in social-impact projects that target the reduction of unemployment and poverty. By bridging the gap between vulnerable populations and the private sector, Rikx enables investors to put their money to work for the community. It’s often true that social innovations remain too minor to attract notice, too anecdotal to offer viable systemic alternatives, or too ineffective to generate solid evidence in terms of results and impact. Through this initiative, Rotterdam seeks to effectively mobilize both social energy and sustainable funding to address pressing social challenges. And these efforts are succeeding! More than 500,000 euros have already been invested in over 40 impact projects, and the model is drawing interest from other municipalities.
  3. The openresearch.amsterdam platform
    In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Caroline Nevejan holds the same position that our guest Julie-Maude Normandin does in Longueuil: Chief Scientific Advisor. This pioneering municipality has set up a digital platform to centralize research, findings, and innovation for Amsterdam and its metropolitan region. Under Ms. Nevejan’s supervision, the platform’s aim is to share expertise, promote relationships between different types of knowledge, and encourage collaboration on research projects.
  4. The Horizons Publics article “Les collectivités disposent d’énormément de leviers pour agir contre le réchauffement climatique”
    The Raccords team recommends reading this interview with François Gemenne in Horizons Publics magazine. A political scientist and co-author of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Gemenne offers thoughts that echo those of the guests in this issue regarding municipalities’ potential to innovate. He reminds us that decisions made by public leaders will affect us well beyond their time in office; hence the importance of setting a course for implementing our collective objectives now. He also points out that local communities are ideal places for reconciling issues of individual preferences and collective choices—for establishing, with residents, adaptation policies that truly meet their needs.
  5. The podcast episode “How to innovate in the public sector” from the series A Manual for Changing the World
    Roselyne Clément invites us to discover this podcast from Saint Paul University’s Élisabeth Bruyère School of Social Innovation: It explains, using concrete examples, how innovation emerges “through, with, and even on the margins of the public system.” Social innovation has more to do with a process to be constructed, a willingness to break out of an existing framework, and the creation of social links to benefit community resilience. It is “sometimes built slowly, through the cooperation of hundreds of people who influence each other without knowing each other,” as the podcast’s host, Simon Tremblay-Pepin, affirms

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