The role of the innovation catalyst in social innovation - an Italian case study

Purpose of the paper: Social innovation is emerging as a dominant discourse, especially in facing the issues posed by the current crisis. Due to its close link with the local area in which it takes place, social innovation is deeply rooted in the overall system, thus involving many different actors. These parties should work synergistically to support social innovation and this requires a connecting intermediary: the innovation catalyst. However, in spite of the existence of this kind of actor its role still hasnt been formally included among the existing models of social innovation. To fill this gap, our work has been carried out by focusing on TrentoRise, an Italian innovation catalyst. Its aim is to understand the role that an innovation catalyst covers and its key features.

Methodology: A single case study analysis has been developed to apply a fresh and innovative framework, the Social Innovation Pyramid, to the case of Trentino ecosystem.

Findings: The analysis shows that an innovation catalyst is fundamental in developing a healthy and functioning innovation ecosystem; therefore, it should be included among the existing innovation models.

Research limitation: The research has focused on a single case study. Widening the sample may be an interesting avenue for further research.

Implication: The proposed model can be replicated in other areas and adapted to the characteristics of their districts.

Originality: Traditional innovation models do not include the figure of the innovation catalyst, which is the focal point of our work.

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