What is Symbiotic Innovation?
‘The root causes of the social challenges we face lay in our lack of understanding of how important we are to each other. If we can create environments where communities and their members can unite to each share their unique human value in solving their shared social challenges, adversity can become our advantage. We can become our own teachers and learn the vital lesson of interdependence. Only through this can we begin to undermine the very foundations of conflict and disadvantage. Symbiotic Innovation is the model that creates these environments.
– Gavin Ackerly, Founder of the Symbiotic Innovation model
Symbiotic Innovation (SI) is a model of 8 Principles that is used to create social environments of interdependence and innovation for communities and their members. Its focus is on ‘what works in practice’ when it comes to communities.
SI is not a prescriptive model but an easy to use guide for those working to connect communities and individuals around social challenges. It is not a competitor to other community led approaches such as the Promitore model or Asset Based Community Development – but adds to these bodies of work.
The approach was initially founded and developed by Gavin Ackerly in his work with refugees and asylum seekers at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Ackerly later travelled to 9 countries across Africa, Europe and America as part of a Churchill Fellowship to study best practice in community led innovation. This led to further breakthroughs in the SI approach which were documented in Ackerly’s most recent work, Humanitarian Symbiotic Innovation.
In 2015, the Symbiotic Innovation model became the subject of a Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre research project. The result was the paper Humanitarian Innovation in Practice – A Symbiotic Approach by Bloom and Faulkner, which concluded: Symbiotic Innovation ‘has the potential to revolutionise humanitarian assistance worldwide.’
SI has been used in welfare and education settings through to community development projects. Community Four continues to deliver and develop its Symbiotic Innovation projects with refugee communities in Australia and abroad.