A CTO's perspective
Mulgan (2007)  describes innovation as “new ideas that work”. Social innovation can refer to innovation in interactions and relationships. It can also refer to innovation aiming to overcome a social need rather than a market need. Here we focus on the latter.
Social innovation ecosystem can occur across a national, regional, global scale, across sectors, organisations, and entrepreneurs. As technologies advance, new opportunities for any individual, organisation, or company to innovate, to find new ways to do old things, arise, often providing solutions to social problems. And, of course, lets not forget that without society social innovation would not be required.
In recent times it has become very expensive for organisations to have their own in house R & D department. Technology has provided a platform for global collaboration. Together, innovation can happen faster and produce more effective innovations than any one company can produce. In addition, the availability of funding for innovation and product development is often directed at solving pressing social needs.
Here is one practical example of how innovation addresses social needs from The Alzheimer's Society:
Lewis’s grandmother Pat has reduced cognitive function as a result of Dementia. Pat forgets to drink, or does not enjoy, water throughout the day, as a result of the reduced cognitive function. The result is dehydration for which Pat needs to be hospitalised. How can dehydration be prevented, or at least reduced so that Pat can continue to live a full, independent life?
Possible social solution:
Because Pat enjoys sweets, Lewis has developed large sweets called JellyDrops that are 90% water. Pat can eat as many as she wants, whenever she wants. Pat can place jars of Jellydrops throughout the home in every room. The bright colours attract attention, look tasty, so encourage regular consumption. The more consumed the less chance of dehydration.
This solution can be easily distributed across society at low cost supporting everyone with a similar problem.
 Jelly Drops sweets to tackle dehydration in dementia