Social innovation is driven by social demands to address social challenges which require collaborating in a new way. 

Over the past decade, social innovation has spread and institutions, enterprises, non-profit organizations and, most of all, networks of collaborative people) have moved outside mainstream models of thinking and doing, generating a variety of promising initiatives such as community-supported agriculture, co-housing, carpooling, community gardens, neighbourhood care, talent exchange and time banks.

These initiatives offer viable solutions to complex problems such as social cohesion, urban regeneration, healthy food accessibility, water and sustainable energy while at the same time, representing working prototypes for sustainable ways of living.

Featured Projects

Eric Li with students

Food Odyssey project (multi-year)

To address challenges associated with food insecurity and poverty, our Food Odyssey partnership research seeks to develop a new socio-technological-driven mechanism that delivers mutual benefits for marginalized population, non-profit organization stakeholders, local businesses, and high-volume donors such as food producers and manufacturers, as well as individual donors.

Goals and Objectives

The proposed Food Odyssey partnership development program seeks to address the primary research question: How can we effectively and meaningfully engage community stakeholders to address food insecurity and poverty issues?

The overall objectives of this Partnership research are to:

1. Develop a knowledge hub for food insecurity and poverty in and beyond the Okanagan region;

2. Establish partnership with community organizations, local businesses and other stakeholders to implement an integrated socio-technological platform to address food insecurity and poverty challenges;

3. Develop an inventory management system to capture food donation, food consumption, and food production activities;

4. Encourage and incentivize local businesses and farms to donate highly demanded products to local charities and non-profit organizations;

Ultimately, the goal of this Food Odyssey program is to engage a variety of stakeholders to co-create a healthy and respectful culture and community.

British Columbia landscape

Rural Health Equity project

This project is funded through a multi-year UBCO Eminence Fund to address rural health equity challenges through technological innovations and social enterprises (related disciplines: management, nursing, social work, computer sciences).

This research cluster brings together multidisciplinary researchers in computer science, management, medicine, nursing, social work to conduct high quality, collaborative, and community-based rural health research to promote the health of children and youth, older adults with chronic disease, and Indigenous people living in rural communities.

The team works directly with rural communities in B.C. to harness the power of social enterprises to enhance the uptake of digital health technologies, reduce disparities and promote inclusive, equitable care for disadvantaged populations.

Learn more

Related Programs

Master of Management summer intensive group

Post-experience Master of Management

The post-experience Master of Management is a boundary-pushing program that focuses on management in the context of social and economic change. The program is concerned with “truth” and what that means—in particular, with the pursuit of “truth” through open inquiry. Immerse yourself in bold thinking and action as part of a collaborative group of peers, exploring new and nimble ways of leading and managing in a blended, part-time program.

Students on the UBCO campus

Interdisciplinary Co-op

At the heart of Co-op at UBC Okanagan is a desire to connect—through people and environments that expand our world view and enrich our learning, work, and daily lives. Co-op is an opportunity for diverse communities to come together in a shared purpose and pursue new modes of knowing.


Entrepreneurship@UBCO offers UBC Okanagan students, faculty, staff and recent graduates training and mentorship support to explore their startup ideas, build connections within the Okanagan innovation ecosystem, and develop the skill set needed to launch a successful new venture.


There are a number of collaborators on social innovation projects at UBC Okanagan including local and regional government bodies as well as not-for-profit organizations and academic partners.

Government Partners

  • City of Kelowna
  • Village of Lumby
  • Interior Health

Business Partners

  • Okanagan Lifestyle
  • Hiilite Inc.
  • Basil & Mints

NGOs/NPOs/Social Enterprise

  • BC Rural Centre
  • Central Okanagan Food Bank
  • Helen’s Acres Community Farm
  • Mamas for Mamas
  • Green Okanagan
  • Lake Country Health Planning Society
  • Happipad
  • Start Fresh
  • Teas for Good
  • Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program
  • East meets West Children’s Foundation
  • UBCO Pantry
  • TOTA

International/National Academic Partners

  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Institute for Textiles and Clothing)
  • Hong Kong Design Institute (School of Design)
  • York University (School of Design, Schulich School of Business, York Centre for Asian Research)
  • Cape Breton University
  • Memorial University (School of Management)
  • Royal Roads University


If you are interested in collaborating on social innovation research, or to learn more please contact Eric Li at