For a Human-Centered AI

Investing in research to innovate social enterprises

September 18, 2018

We interviewed Flaviano Zandonai, Ezio Manzini and Francesco Profumo, protagonists at the 16th Workshop on Social Enterprise

September 13 and 14, 2018, Riva del Garda hosted the 16th Workshop on Social Enterprise, promoted by Iris Network, to discuss “New knowledge for innovation and development“.

In recent years, the workshop has become a reference point for companies that produce goods and services characterized by social utility, a place for operators and researchers to exchange views on how to create greater synergy on ongoing initiatives or on experimentation activities. In this context, the activity of researchers is critical to reflect and study what the impact of social enterprises is. Entrepreneurs and social workers, but also researchers, planners and consultants who, for various reasons, promote and manage this kind of activities, participated in the various round table discussions of the conference. Reflecting on the recent past of social enterprises and imagining their future also in light of the recent reform of the third sector opens up new areas of development for all those social enterprises that (re) invest in research. The two-day event was characterized by the effort towards a new point of balance between theoretical contributions and research-development to put knowledge at the center of social entrepreneurial ecosystems that are increasingly plural, i.e. characterized by elements of organizational and cultural biodiversity.

We collected some ideas for reflection on the spot from:

  • Flaviano Zandonai, secretary of Iris Network, the network of institutes engaged in research on social enterprises;
  • Ezio Manzini (POLIMI DESIS Lab – Polytechnic of Milan);
  • Francesco Profumo, FBK President, gave a talk in his capacity as President of Compagnia di San Paolo.

We asked Zandonai what the impact of the introduction of research among the new sectors of activity of social enterprises could be.
President Profumo focused on the role of research for social cohesion and the development of the country.
Prof. Manzini described the network of social entrepreneurs as a collective intelligence spread throughout the national territory and therefore extremely useful in a time of social change that, due to its rapid pace, creates hurdles for operators and legislators.


Photo credits: Nicola Bertasi.

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