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María José Aranguren, Patricia Canto-Farachala

How can universities contribute to make sustainable and inclusive wellbeing the ultimate goal of competitiveness? The challenge of scaling up a model of social innovation in research

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda is an urgent call for action to address poverty, rising inequality, the climate emergency and other complex global challenges. At its heart is the recognition that, while competitiveness is necessary to fuel economic growth, it cannot be an end but must be means to achieve inclusive and sustainable wellbeing. Jesuit universities and its business schools can contribute to address this challenge through research by (i) producing expert knowledge on competitiveness for inclusive and sustainable wellbeing and/or (ii) by co-generating new knowledge with other territorial actors to change competitiveness in practice, placing it at the service of inclusive and sustainable wellbeing. Universities know how to play the former role, but in order to play the latter, they must change how they relate to other territorial actors. Changes in how social actors relate to one another is one of the definitions of social innovation. A recent example of social innovation in research is Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), a model that innovates on the role and responsibilities of researchers and stakeholders in research processes that address complex social challenges. We argue that any model that innovates on the relations between universities and other territorial actors in order to address complex social challenges, even if such challenges are global, needs to consider context. While social innovation models cannot be replicated, the lessons drawn from applying the model in one case, may inspire others to build their own place-based models. Based on this problem statement our research question is: How can a social innovation model developed in one university to address the challenge of changing competitiveness in practice through research help other universities to build their own place-based model? We answer this question by analyzing the case of Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness following an auto-reflective case study approach. Orkestra was created in 2006 within Deusto University, a Jesuit university in the North of Spain, with the specific mission of contributing to address the challenges faced by competitiveness in the Basque region. Over the past 13 years Orkestra has developed its own social innovation model to address the challenge of changing competitiveness in practice through transformative research processes. Two years ago, it began an experimental process with a group of Jesuit universities in Latin American to help them to build their own place-based models. Through this experimental process Orkestra is drawing lessons from the challenge of scaling up its social innovation model to make competitiveness a vehicle for inclusive and sustainable wellbeing.