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​While the Lewis Institute is dedicated to drawing forth ideas through the meetings of diverse minds, the Babson Social Innovation Lab puts those ideas into action. New concepts in social innovation are prototyped, evaluated, and proved in real-world contexts. Funded by a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Toyota Foundation, the Babson Social Innovation Lab brings together a global, interdisciplinary community of students and mentors dedicated to building a better world. 


The Lab employs Babson’s Uncommon Table methodology. Based on the precepts of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action and Giving Voice To Values, The Uncommon Table fosters “smart action” by convening multiple audiences in a collaborative environment where they draw on their abundance of strengths and unique perspectives to address critical dilemmas facing the world. With this framework in place, the Lab is currently involved in three action projects:


  • Food Solutions (Food Sol): While two billion people in the world are starving, one billion are over-consuming, and the population keeps growing. How we manufacture, grow, and distribute food is a problem. Food Sol seeks to influence a world where all people can fully nourish themselves, their families, and their communities. This will require influencing and changing business, government, community, and consumer behavior around food. The business of food and its impact on the world is complex; Food Sol will focus on dilemmas that can be addressed through entrepreneurship and social innovation.

  • Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship: The Babson Social Innovation Lab is supporting this joint course between Babson and the Olin School of Engineering. The goal is to incorporate principles of lean thinking as an integral part of the design process. Students will travel nationally and internationally to work with community partners in developing and deploying innovations that generate income and meet daily human needs.


  • Micro Supply Chain: Entrepreneurs and artisans in developing countries face barriers due to lack of infrastructure, systematic burdens, corruption, inefficient government, and limited markets. This partnership among MIT; Made By Survivors, an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking; and the Babson Social Innovation Lab will create mobile applications for managing micro supply chains that will change the future for marginalized people in developing countries by enabling them to succeed in the global marketplace.


Define Social Innovation