September 21, 2020

Experts share experience of reviving a city via social innovation

PUBLISHED : December 01, 2019 - 14:35

UPDATED : December 01, 2019 - 14:35

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Social innovators from South Korea, the Netherlands and Taiwan emphasized citizens’ participation to achieve successful social innovation during a gathering of social innovators that took place Nov. 28-30.

The experts were invited to share their experience of reviving a small city by bringing together civil society, governments and corporations at Sinn 2019 in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Nov. 29.

“The old paradigm of government aid is inadequate. We need are innovative solutions that foster sustainable economic growth,” said Around van de Boel, community manager of Midpoint Center for Social Innovation.

Tilburg is a small city in the Netherlands with 215,000 people and faced economic hardships due to the declines of the burgeoning textile industry.

MCSI runs many citizen-oriented projects such as Spoorpark, a former industrial zone transformed into a city park by efforts of citizens.

Around van de Boel, community manager of Midpoint Center for Social Innovation, introduces MSCI’s activities at Gangwon Social Innovation and Social Contribution International Forum on Nov. 28 at Gangwon University.
Chuncheon Center for Social Innovation

“Thirty years ago, Tilburg citizens had no pride but they are proud of the city they built with their own efforts,” Boel said.

Marieken Smeets-Bielars, board member of MCSI, stressed cooperation with students.

“The advantage of working with students is that they provide fresh feedback and visions,” she said.

Jessie Chang introduced Taichung Social Innovation Unit, Taiwan’s first social innovation hub. Taichung is an industrial city on the western side of central Taiwan.

Chang, the head of TSIU, said that the city’s innovation hub carries out many capacity building events, provides training and resources for citizens.

He said successful social innovation depends on cooperation between government, private sectors and nonprofit sectors.

“It has to start with listening to citizens but what’s more important is giving the ownership of the idea,” Smeets-Bielars said when asked how to sustain citizen-driven social changes. “Giving the ownership of the idea to whoever brings the idea can encourage citizens to take ownership.”

And citizens more easily speak up when they feel like they are being heard, Chang noted.

Park Jeong-hwan, director of Chuncheon Center for Social Innovation, said that “it is important for places where social innovation gather for many projects such MSCI’s Station 88 and Chuncheon Center for Social Innovation.”

By Park Ga-young (

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