Annual Conference

The Annual Conference is a meeting point for different stakeholders: NGOs, for and not-for-profit companies, social entrepreneurs, public administrations and scholars. The aim is to jointly reflect and debate on some of the key issues in the social innovation, CSR, social entrepreneurship and not-for-profit fields.

  • Transferring knowledge

    We examine new social innovation paradigms from numerous perspectives to determine what benefits they can provide today’s society and the opportunities they represent for organisations, in addition to meeting the constantly changing needs in their day-to-day realities.

  • Sharing experiences

    We count on numerous nationally and internationally prestigious speakers who share their valuable personal and professional experience with us.

  • Building alliances

    People from all sectors with similar or complementary social objectives take part in the Annual Conference, representing a unique opportunity to explore possible synergies and establish alliances and/or reach collaboration agreements. As the saying goes, “a bundle of sticks can’t be broken”.

Targeted audience

All those individuals and organisations that want to improve society through social innovation.


NGOs and other not-for-profits: if you’re a member of a third-sector organisation, whether a volunteer, a member of its staff or executive body and you want to help to achieve its social objectives from different perspectives.

Traditional companies: if you work for a company that wants to include social innovation in its activity or it wants to use the power of its business to generate some type of benefit for society.

Social enterprises: if you’ve created a company whose mission is to have social impact.

Entrepreneurs: if you have good ideas that can translate into solutions to overcome social challenges.

Public administrations: if you work for a public administration and feel that social innovation is key to create alliances between the administration and citizens.

Academic: whether a researcher, faculty member or student, if you are researching or studying topics related to social innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility, social entrepreneurship and the third sector.

Previous editions

11th Annual Conference

Social innovation to foment the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: A focus on replicability and scalability


The focus of the 11th Annual Conference held on April 17th, 2018, on ESADE’s Barcelona campus was social innovation as a key element to address the different UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) scenarios. The various speeches and workshops explored how to further today’s global SDG movement. They also examined how companies, NGOs, public administrations and social entrepreneurs were addressing these objectives to overcome our world’s challenges through innovative and effective alliances, tools and initiatives.


How can the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to scale our own initiatives? How can organisations promote the SDGs? How does social innovation contribute to SDG fulfilment?

Though social innovation has been shown to successfully advance in terms of achieving SDGs, several questions regarding its replicability and scalability may be hindering its growth. This conference identified ways to increase our actions’ impact and how every organisation is key for our future.


11th Annual Conference photos

11th Annual Conference video-summary


Noteworthy presentations and articles

Press release: Social Innovation must be scalable and replicable to achieve Social Development Goals

Organisers: ESADE Institute for Social Innovation’s 11th Annual Conference

10th Annual Conference

How to overcome complex social challenges


What role does social innovation play in surmounting social problems? What characteristics do environments leading to social innovation share? Do today’s new technologies serve as a means to accelerate and create a sustainable future?


If we fail to change our focus on how we address social problems, innovating and responding with better solutions will be difficult. Social innovation stems from the exchange of ideas between players in different fields, including the public and private sectors, not-for-profits and entrepreneurs. The sum of all the their experience and learning will help us fulfil our objective: innovate to achieve a better social model.


The aim of the IIS’ 10th Annual Conference, with support from Fundació EY, was for national and international speakers to share their knowledge and opinions regarding the different topics addressed at this event, topics which ranged from the role new technologies play to the spaces and methodologies that favour social innovation. The ultimate aim was to further explore how organisations, companies and social enterprises have to contribute to social transformation from different perspectives.


Annual Conference programme

10th Annual Conference photos

10th Annual Conference video-summary



Podcast and videos

Podcast: "A projection towards new trends in research and social development" by Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta

Video of whole conference: Why a Lab? A new method to achieve scalable and sustainable social innovation


Noteworthy presentations

Ignasi Carreras: "Four challenges for NGOs and not-for-profits"

Interview with Geoff Mulgan

Interview with Lisa Hehenberger



Press release: Geoff Mulgan, NESTA CEO, at ESADE: “Hope stems from action”

IIS blog: "Hope stems from action "

Guido Charosky: “Design Thinking”

Geoff Mulgan: “Creating a comprehensive system for social R&D”

9th Annual Conference

Social innovation to address future challenges


How can social innovation help to reduce inequalities? What role does social innovation play in building inclusive societies? How can we face and overcome future challenges?


Our societies face extraordinary challenges: an increase in inequality, poverty and unemployment amongst youth, in addition to climate change and other problems. Never before has finding a new way to think been more urgent than it is today. This implies finding alternatives which lead to an in-depth social transformation and resolve today’s problems. Society demands creative and innovative solutions that ensure sustainable and inclusive growth at the global level.


These challenges are enormous, without doubt, but they also represent an opportunity to face continuous challenges in a different way, allowing social innovation to emerge. In most cases, we tend to ignore the significant social component when we talk about innovation.


On April 14th, 2016, in Barcelona during our Annual Conference, various experts shared their knowledge with us on the key social innovation trends. 


Annual Conference programme

9th Annual Conference photos

9th Annual Conference video-summary


Noteworthy presentations 

Sally Uren (Forum for the Future): “Changing the present through the future: How innovation can be a highway between the present and the future”

Kristoffer Gandrup (UNICEF): (roundtable discussion) “Future challenges: Three social innovation experiences”

Alice Barbe (Singa Project): (roundtable discussion) “Can we face future challenges without measuring our impact?”

Anna Cohí (Fundación DAU): (roundtable discussion) “Can we face future challenges without measuring our impact?”

Charles Castro (ECODES): (roundtable discussion) “Can we face future challenges without measuring our impact?”

Jordi Mayals (L'Estoc): (roundtable discussion) “Can we face future challenges without measuring our impact?”

Vincent Rossò (co-founder of BlaBlaCar España and WeSocial): “Innovation, technology and collaboration to resolve social problems: from BlaBlaCar to Literates”

Presentación de Esther Val (investigadora Instituto de Innovación Social), 'Innovación, tecnología y colaboración para resolver problemáticas sociales: de BlaBlaCar a Literates'


Article by Lidia Montes in El Mundo: El 'Airbnb' para refugiados y otros mundos posibles (“Airbnb for refugees and other possible worlds”)


8th Annual Conference

Collaborative social innovation


“Co-innovation”, “collaboration”, “peer-to-peer” and “citizen-consumer” are ever-present concepts in this new economic and social era. Internet is full of organisations with an impact on our society, representing a new way of interacting and experimenting with collaboration models based on shared resources. This new paradigm has emerged with the economic crisis and the lack of fiscal incentives, forcing us to re-think traditional management models and seek out disruptive models to help NGOs, companies and organisations with a social impact move forward within this new paradigm.


The “ownership” concept has been displaced in favour of “collaboration”. The last edition of the Annual Conference held on February 26th, 2015, at ESADEFORUM in Barcelona served to analyse how models based on shared resources can help us be more efficient in certain situations than traditional resource-based models. Experts analysed this new paradigm from different perspectives to identify the benefits that collaborative social innovation can provide today’s society and the opportunities available for organisations with a social impact.


Numerous experts and individuals experimenting with and implementing collaborative social innovation initiatives in their organisations took part in the conference.


Annual Conference programme

8th Annual Conference photos

8th Annual Conference video-summary


Noteworthy presentations 

Ignasi Carreras: Inaugural address for the 8th Annual Conference

OuiShare presentation in the session: “Collaborative economic models to have social impact”

Ignasi Carreras in the session: “Collaborative marketplace: Companies and NGOs jointly exploring new ways to collaborate”



ESADE and FOMIN (IADB) presented a report on social innovation in Latin America

Article in ARA: Empresaris que innoven per millorar la societat (“Entrepreneurs who innovate to improve society”)

Interview with Simon Willis in El País: Es fácil cerrar paraísos fiscales (“Creating tax havens is easy”)

Article in TejeRedes: Tejiendo redes: Metodologías para conectar personas, equipos y organizaciones (“Weaving networks: Methodologies to connect people, teams and organisations”)

Interview with Simon Willis in El Mundo: Innovación contra Corrupción (“Innovation to fight against corruption”)

Article by Albert Cañigueral in Consumo colaborativo: Para cambiar el mundo no crees una empresa, crea una plataforma (“To change the world, don’t start a company; create a platform”)

Article by Cristóbal Gracia and Lucía Hernández (OuiShare) in the IIS blog: Modelos de economía colaborativa para generar impacto social (“Sharing economy models to generate social impact”)

Simon Willis (The Young Foundation) at ESADE: “We have to foster the benefits for socially responsible companies”

7th Annual Conference

Organisations with social impact: Strengthening intra-entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship


The 7th Annual Conference, entitled “Organisations with social impact: Strengthening intra-entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship” was held on April 4th, 2014. It served to bring together international experts who have experimented with social intra-entrepreneurship in their organisations. The aim of the conference was to learn about the leadership processes they had adopted to challenge the status quo and achieve a better future.


Ignasi Carreras, Director of the ESADE Institute for Social Innovation, highlighted the willingness to “strengthen the impact of social enterprises, whether in the initial startup phase or already consolidated firms, as well as NGOs, socially responsible companies and public administrations so that they can become more entrepreneurial in favour of social causes.” In this sense, he explained that intra-entrepreneurship by individuals with entrepreneurial initiative is vital, favouring innovation and the search for new business models within the company itself. “We wager on the talent of these intra-entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs,” he indicated.


Pamela Hartigan, Executive Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Said Business School (University of Oxford) explained that "we have to change today’s model in which only a few become rich at the expense of everyone else and in which the planet’s resources are overexploited.” In a speech dedicated to exploring if social entrepreneurship was a transformative or a palliative movement, Hartigan underscored that “the future implies seeking out new models which combine social innovation and financial sustainability.”


7th Annual Conference photos

6th Annual Conference

Promoting social innovation through collaboration


Collaborating and promoting social innovation to address the financial crisis was one of the key topics at the Institute for Social Innovation’s 6th Annual Conference held at ESADE’s Barcelona campus on February 20th, 2013.


Collaboration between companies and not-for-profits has increasingly become one of the key avenues to achieve social innovation. In this edition of its Annual Conference, the IIS shared its own experiences and reflected on a wide range of structures and degrees of collaboration capable of having a social impact, both on society as well as on the participating organisations themselves. The complexity of today’s challenges demands, without doubt, a joint response which, from a social innovation perspective, implies the interaction between different players, knowledge, processes and resources.


Ignasi Carreras’ inaugural address signalled that organisations in Spain are not “excessively innovative” in most sectors: public, private and NGOs. However, he argued that one of the ways to have social impact is by adopting a collaborative focus. In addition, he ensured that the greater the number of different players, with shared objectives and compatible values, “innovation is much stronger”. Carreras shared his own personal experience and explained that we have to address the crisis by being original, being less conventional, re-thinking what we can do and not trying to repair the damage but, rather, transform it.


The conference also included speakers such as Jem Bendell, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS, University of Cumbria). His speech was entitled "Unleashing abundance: Collaborative disruption for social innovation". According to Bendell, there are opportunities within crises, thus proposing a collaborative model based on the most solidarity-minded elements such as crowdfunding, housing exchange platforms such as couch-surfing and other new ways to exchange things without requiring money. “We are the wealth, not money,” he indicated, launching a positive message to encourage people to face economic problems and unleash abundance.


Another keynote speaker was Susanne Stormer, Vice President of Global Triple-Bottom-Line Management at Novo Nordisk. In her speech entitled "Changing the future health", she presented a Novo Nordisk project focused on mitigating the effects of diabetes, an example of public-private collaboration between her company and the Malaysian Ministry of Health. Stormer thus demonstrated the type of social innovation carried out from a corporate point of view and signalled the importance of being innovative to be sustainable.


Other discussions and parallel sessions throughout the conference included participation by experts in the field.


Conference Programme

6th Annual Conference programme

6th Annual Conference photos



Presentation by Ignasi Carreras: Promover la innovación social mediante la colaboración (“Promoting social innovation through collaboration”)

Presentation by Leda Stott and Anette Scoppetta: "Making Partnerships for Employment and Social Inclusion Work"

Presentation by Jordi Peix: La Innovació social dels Banc dels aliments (“Social innovation amongst food banks”)

Presentation by Ignasi Carreras: ONG y Empresas (“NGOs and companies”)

Presentation by Ismael Peña: Sociedad red e innovación social (“Network society and social innovation”)

Presentation by Patricia Pólvora: El sector de la tecnología como motor de la innovación social (“The technology industry as a driver for social innovation”)


Noteworthy articles

IIS blog: Conectando la innovación y la sostenibilidad (“Connecting innovation and sustainability”)

Jem Bendell in La Vanguardia: El uso del móvil va a desbancarizar nuestras vidas (“The use of mobile devices is going to ‘debank’ our lives”)

Article in El País (Idearium): Co-innovación: el rol de las alianzas en la innovación (“Co-innovation: The role of alliances in innovation”)

Article in El Mundo (Catalonia edition): Innovacion Disruptiva, la clave para superar la crisis (“Disruptive innovation, the key to overcome the crisis”)

Article in CompromisoRSE: El potencial de las TIC para contribuir a la innovación social (“IT’s potential to contribute to social innovation”)

Article in Diari de Sabadell: Promover la innovación social para superar la crisis (“Promoting social innovation to overcome the crisis”)

Article in Diari d'Andorra: Innovació Social (“Social innovation”)

Consult all the tweets with the official hashtag #6AC sent out live during the conference.

5th Annual Conference

Connecting sustainability and innovation


The theme of the ESADE Institute for Social Innovation’s 5th Annual Conference held in Barcelona on February 16th, 2012, was “Connecting sustainability and innovation. Promoting innovation to address social and environmental challenges”. The conference successfully brought together more than 350 participants..


The 5th Annual Conference served to jointly debate on how organisations can incorporate innovation and sustainability as part of their organisational identity and culture. Based on the conviction that this integration process can be a source of value-creation for both the organisation and society at large, conference participants debated on questions such as the role companies and NGOs should play in developing social innovation and the strategic planning tools which can help to find innovative and sustainable solutions, amongst many other issues.


5th Annual Conference programme

5th Annual Conference photos



Presentation by Ignasi Carreras: Promover la innovación para afrontar los retos sociales y medioambientales (“Promoting innovation to overcome social and environmental challenges”)

Presentation by Amalio Rey: Design Thinking, una forma más humana de innovar (“Design Thinking, a more humane way to innovate”)

Natural Step presentation: Planificación estratégica para desatar la creatividad y la innovación hacia la sostenibilidad (“Strategic planning to unleash creativity and innovation for sustainability”)


Noteworthy articles

IIS blog: Conectando la innovación y la sostenibilidad - Entrevistas a los ponentes (“Connecting innovation and sustainability” – Interviews with speakers”)

Press release: Las empresas que actúan de manera socialmente responsable pueden ser más rentables y más competitivas en tiempos de crisis (“Companies that act in a socially responsible way can be more profitable and competitive in times of crises”)

Press release by Ignasi Carreras: Ser responsable es ser rentable (“Being responsible means being profitable”)

Detailed summary of the conference content

What did we talk about?

3rd Annual Conference

Connecting sustainability and innovation


Responsible leadership: Is CSR a leadership challenge?


“In times of crisis, responsible leadership is decisive, and CSR is, in particular, a leadership challenge”. With these words Ignasi Carreras, Director of ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation inaugurated the institute’s 3rd Annual Conference held in November 2009.

"Responsible leadership not only consists of maximising profits but, also, creating social and environmental value. In the global competition to find clients and talent, responsible leadership is about generating trust and building responsible relations with different stakeholders in the business community and in society."

Ignasi Carreras argued that this responsible leadership was essential to avoid repeating the types of practices which had led to the current crisis. On the one hand, the most visible side of responsible leadership implies being committed to society, with actions through NGOs, etc. But, in addition to these, responsible leaders are those that want to go even further, talking about responsibility as a different way of leading their companies. These are clearly transformative leaders.

This edition of the Annual Conference was held in Madrid and in Barcelona, on November 19th and 26th, respectively. Their structure was the same, featuring a keynote speaker and a roundtable discussion with distinguished experts in the field.


Annual Conference in Madrid | Annual Conference in Barcelona


Annual Conference programme (Madrid) | Annual Conference programme (Barcelona)


Noteworthy presentations and articles

Presentation by Ignasi Carreras