Analysis standards for social innovations


During the past nine years, we have analysed and documented over 2,000 innovations from around the world in an attempt to explore their adaptation and adoption in other local and national contexts.

This journey has forced us to build standards around five essential dimensions of social innovations : 

  • The type of innovation. UpSocialdefines social innovation as a more effective, efficient, sustainable and just response to a social problem. This is a broad but simple concept that embraces many types of actions. This is why we use the classification proposed by Charles Leadbeater and Annika Wong as a way of defining the different nature and scope of innovations: from those that improve or complement existing responses, to those that reinvent or transform the system. 

  • The strength of the evidence. Many innovations claim to have generated social outcomes, but the strength of their evidence varies significantly. We therefore use a standard to understand the attribution and correlation of outcomes with the innovation. It assesses the type of studies and sources used to elucidate whether the innovation works or not.

  • The adaptation experience. This standard analyses the degree of experience in taking the innovation to different contexts. Whether it is a new service or a product, a way of operating, a business model, the capacity to activate latent resources or tapping into new resources… UpSocial assesses the experience in adapting the essence of the innovation and the successes it has had in generating similar outcomes.

  • The systematisation of the transfer model. This dimension analyses how the innovation has structured its knowledge and information, how well-documented it is to ensure adoption and adaptation with fidelity.

  • The consolidation of the income-generating model. The way the innovation creates, delivers, and captures value is an essential component of UpSocial’sanalysis. This is why this standard analyses every innovation’s income-generating model and its adaptability outside the original context.

Standardised information allows us to effectively understand and compare innovations, and it helps our clients and their stakeholders decide which ones could have the highest potential in terms of impact and scale. 

We have used references and models taken from various research and standards developed by many other organizations, so it is not a new document. In addition, we have counted on the invaluable feedback from various experts who we especially we thank here. 

By documenting and openly sharing this document, we invite all readers and users to send feedback and help enrich this tool. We hope that it will be useful for orientating action and contributing to improve the scaling up of great social innovations.