Latest publications | Meet Torino Social Impact, the Italian social innovation hotspot

Interview with Mario Calderini, spokesperson for Torino Social Impact, hosting partner for the Ashoka Changemaker Summit 2021,
by Ashoka, 26th November 2021

Question: Why was Torino Social Impact born and what is its vision and objectives? 

Torino Social Impact is an alliance between public and private institutions to test a strategy for developing entrepreneurship with a high social impact and technological intensity in the metropolitan area.

The initiative, which has historically been promoted and supported by the Social Entrepreneurship Committee of the Turin Chamber of Commerce, stems from the observation that a new generation of innovators, businesses and financial investors is emerging globally. By exploiting new technological opportunities, they know how to combine the ability to intentionally produce positive social impacts with the sustainability, economic and financial profitability of their initiatives.

In 2017, with the support of the Torino Chamber of Commerce and Compagnia di SanPaolo, the activities got started and 12 entities signed the first Memorandum of Understanding, subsequently defining governance, strategic plan, team and operational plan.

Today there are more than 160 partners, including public entities, finance and philanthropy, research, innovation and technology transfer bodies, incubators and accelerators, suppliers of skills and facilities for innovation, the third sector, social enterprises and private companies.

The aim of the alliance is to establish Torino as the best European ecosystem for entrepreneurship and investments with high social impact and technological content.  

This objective is pursued through a strategic plan oriented along two lines of activity: the first is the construction of the ecosystem, thus creating the conditions for impact entrepreneurship through services, skills, financial instruments and innovative projects; the second is the identity and promotion of the ecosystem, through a collective brand to position itself on the global map of impact investments.


Q: The social and economic crisis resulting from the pandemic Covid-19 has highlighted the emergence of new needs. How can social entrepreneurship organisations play a transformative role and strengthen their capacity to respond to future crisis? 

The Third Sector has proved to be one of the most active in the actions to cope with the emergency, trying to meet the needs of the weakest and those in difficulty. It is also one of the sectors hardest hit economically by the crisis, since many of the services it provides, particularly those for individuals, have been halted and radically reshaped, leading to loss of income and increased costs. All crises can also be opportunities for reflection to introduce innovations and new challenges. The Torino Social Impact platform is also a tool for monitoring the effects of the crisis and facilitating the launch of new paths and the search for solutions. In December, we will present the results of an ad hoc study conducted by our Observatory.

However, as the pandemic emergency has shown, effective responses to crises come from subjects capable of reinventing themselves by adapting to new needs with new forms of service.  


Q: On the 2nd of December Turin will host the Ashoka Changemaker Summit, for the first time in our country. What are the main collaborations that you have activated in these years with Ashoka and what will be your role in the Summit? 

Torino Social Impact is honoured and delighted to host the Ashoka Changemaker Summit as an official partner.

We believe that this event will be a real enrichment for our social enterprises and for the whole ecosystem and we are enthusiastically hosting some Ashoka Fellows, learning from their experiences and being inspired by their approaches to innovation.  

Over the past few months Torino Social Impact, together with Ashoka Italia, Fondazione CRT, OGR Torino and Fondazione Sviluppo e Crescita CRT have been working on a roadmap of events leading up to the Summit with a series of defined initiatives and projects, called Road to ACMS 2021.

The main projects were: Changemakers Communities, a focus on those communities and cities which, thanks to an articulated ecosystem involving institutions and key players, take on the role of reference points for innovation and social entrepreneurship, with appointments in Mexico, Brazil and Turin; Writing Change, meetings with Ashoka Fellows, authors of books on the theme of social innovation; To Fail or not to Fail, on the theme of failure as part of enterprise.

Finally, Gen C: Generazione Changemaker, promoted in collaboration with the Agenzia Nazionale Giovani (National Youth Agency), which aims to build a community (13-25 years old) that identifies with the definition of changemakers: “Generazione Changemaker” or “Gen C”. The aim of the initiative is to foster youth empowerment by enabling a community of young changemakers willing to step up to redefine their role in today’s world.

We are delighted to host the closing event of this rich and stimulating journey in Turin.


Q: There is a lot of talk about ecosystems for social innovation and, as you know, Ashoka is working on the hotspot perspective. In the light of the Torino Social Impact experience, what do you think are the elements needed for an ecosystem to function and generate change? 

TSI is an open platform that brings together ideas, experiences, projects and resources to catalyse and attract entrepreneurship and investment that exploit new technological opportunities to solve emerging social problems through economically sustainable models. Partners can join by signing an MoU and committing to collaborate.

Returning to the link with the territory in which this experience was born, it is a founding element of the ecosystem.

The strategy is based on the idea that at the intersection of the city’s historical vocation for social entrepreneurship, the density of technological capacities in the area and the presence of important financial investors oriented towards social impact there is an interesting opportunity of social and industrial development for the city, and all the necessary resources can be found in Turin. 

Intentionally producing social impact means actually being able to find answers and solutions to emerging social needs, significantly and permanently changing people’s living conditions.