Our Approach

Using an open innovation platform, communityINNOVATE leverages the power of the greater Indianapolis community and the human-centered design process to co-create innovative and sustainable solutions to local social issues.

A time-boxed solution that entails the entire innovation process

Once a social issue is selected for the challenge, the community moves together through four time-boxed phases to first create a shared understanding of the issue within the local context and then identify and develop impactful solutions. An online portal is complemented by in-person meet-ups and workshops.

Leverages a diverse set of local partners

As illustrated by sociologist Ron Burt, better ideas are derived from more diverse sources of information.

Thus, communityINNOVATE brings together partners from throughout the community: social issue experts, corporations, non-profits, government, universities, design experts, community organizations and faith-based organizations.

Supported by research
  • Brown and Wyatt offer an overview of how human-centered design thinking is a highly relevant process for social innovation.
  • “Traditional municipal volunteering programs give people an opportunity to give their time and labor to worthwhile projects. By transforming these programs into ‘impact volunteering’ efforts – into vehicles for deliberation, collaboration, and connection – leaders and citizens can lay a foundation for civic renewal.” (Lee & Levine, 2016)
  • Star explains in his article Dump the Prizes, that focusing solely on competitions with a grand prize to solve social issues undermines the motivation of social entrepreneurs, places too much emphasis on ideas and not implementation, and only allows for a single winner with the remainder having wasted time (Star, 2013)
  • According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, over 70% of millennial employees volunteered in 2014. As millennials want to see how their participation makes a difference, it is recommended that companies provide millennials periodic and short-term volunteer opportunities that use their skills and expertise. (The Millennial Impact Project, 2015)

  • You can listen to a discussion of our most recent Indy Healthy Food Access Challenge on the WFYI No Limits Show and the Wit, Wisdom & Food podcast. The Indianapolis Business Journal also provided a summary of the efforts.

    Do you have a social issue that you would like communityINNOVATE to focus on in an upcoming challenge? Or, would you like to leverage the web platform and process within your organization? Let us know!