Innovation in Context

The word “innovation” pops up everywhere. It refers to everything from technology to services to economic growth – but is innovation just about goods and services or does it depend on who we are, our institutions, culture and education? To highlight the social context of innovation, we are organizing a one-day interdisciplinary workshop, Innovation in Context, on November 19, 2016, in association with McGill University’s Innovation Week. Open to students, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and community leaders we will explore together the fundamental role that human structures, attitudes, skills and knowledge have in determining the impact of innovation.

Our panels will examine how innovation is as much as social phenomenon as a technological one. The bias towards technology ignores the reality that many of the most significant innovations are either not related to technology or are only peripherally so. Great technologies that don’t meet social needs will fail; important social changes can have substantial impact even without technologies.

Ultimately, our event will explore what conditions in society lead people not only to create but to turn those creations into innovations. Idea-driven goods and services pose new challenges for our societies. As they disrupt conventional economic, political, and social structures, they create tremendous uncertainty. How can countries maximize the benefits of innovation? How should society adapt technology to its need? How do innovations transform us and our social interactions? In all these questions, we cannot forget the importance of the social to the success or failure of innovation and the relationship between people and their innovations.

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Read the draft program here.

This content has been updated on October 27, 2016 at 12:49.