Michael Norton was giving a public lecture in China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI). (Provided to Newsgd.com)
When a man white in hair walked alone into the lecture hall in Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub, I can hardly believe that this hale and hearty man who was thought to be the “Father of European Social Innovation” is in his seventies.
Yes, it seems to be widely accepted that innovation is a business of young people, and Michael Norton with over 50 years of experiences in social innovation, is thought to be the counter-example with his devotion to promoting social innovation worldwide.
Social innovations are new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet the social needs of different elements which can be from working conditions and education to community development and health—they extend and strengthen civil society. Social innovation includes the social processes of innovation, such as open source methods and techniques and also the innovations which have social purpose—like online volunteering, microcredit, or distance learning. In a word, social entrepreneurs like Norton are using innovative ideas to help the less advantaged people in society.
Norton started his career on social innovation as early as in 1966 when he set up UK’s first language teaching program for non-English speaking immigrants in London. Before that he was in merchant banking, where he invented the split capital investment trust and publishing. During the past 50 years, he has established YouthBank, VICA and many other organizations, and published books such as Directory of Social Change, and 360 Ways to Change the World, which all have produced great influences on UK and even on the world. He received an OBE in 1998 for his hard work in this aspect.
As an old friend of Shenzhen, Michael Norton this time came to Shenzhen to give a public lecture in China Global Philanthropy Institute (CGPI). CGPI is the first of its kind in China to have been jointly started by Chinese and American philanthropists including Bill Gates, and Norton is among the Adjunct Professors.
Also one of the main purposes for his 5-day trip in Shenzhen is to participate in the 2nd annual Asian Environmental Innovation Forum (AEIF), in which he acts as the founder and initiator. AEIF 2016 brings together worldwide experts and leading practitioners in environmental innovation, supporting innovators and encouraging public understanding and participation in addressing some of the big environmental challenges that the planet faces.