Call for 'sharing of ideas'

Social entrepreneurs should be prepared to hand their ideas to private or public sector bodies rather than struggle to keep their own organisations going, according to a report from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

In and Out of Sync, a report produced jointly by Nesta and social innovation body the Young Foundation, says that if entrepreneurs try to "hoard credit" for their ideas they may in fact impede the social aims they are working to achieve.

"If you are trying to achieve a social impact, you should let go, step back and release your idea to the winds," said Richard Halkett, a co-author of the report and executive director of Nesta's policy and research unit. "It is important to share best practice and ideas. We need to focus on social impact and not the organisations themselves."

Halkett said this altruistic attitude was essential. "People in value-driven social organisations claim they are working for the greater good; we need to test that and see what it really means," he said.

The report, which is based on in-depth analysis of 11 social innovation projects, including social enterprise The Big Issue and charity Teach First, also highlights the problem of social enterprise leaders hindering the growth of their organisations by failing to adapt to changing circumstances.

A spokeswoman for the Social Enterprise Coalition stressed the importance of allowing social ideas to be effectively implemented, but warned that if government agencies or private companies were to take over, social missions risked being overtaken by financial imperatives.

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