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Grounded Space – Designed by society

Grounded Space

Building Canada’s first Social Research and Development Collective


It’s not uncommon to hear that rigidities have crept into public sectors that act as barriers to social innovation. Rigidities such as operating in a competitive rather than collaborative environment, entrenched ideologies which people are wedded to, risk management that doesn’t offer opportunities for people to learn and develop, and fixed contracting which determines the outcomes of work before it has started.


In Canada, innovation is part of policy framing and commonly cited in federal budgets as a catalyst of economic growth. However social innovation is not generally well understood or incentivized, and there is a limited infrastructure to support the growth of social innovation practices.


Response Working with InWithForward and their partners for 10 weeks in 2017 we co-designed a collaborative membership-based business model to prototype and launch Canada’s first Social Research and Development Collective.


The Collective is called Grounded Space and it offers organisations the opportunity to build teams that become well practiced in asking critical questions, engaging in research, generating alternative service responses, and prototyping, testing and iterating these ideas. It also asks those organisations to share talent, data, and learning resources so members’ can collectively advance the service and sectors they work in at a reduced cost, whilst evolving the services they offer to the people they serve.


This business model is in the process of being prototyped. A continuous evaluation process is being engaged with to better understand market need, service provision, costing, sustainability and scaling options. You can read more about this work at: LINK


  • Market research
  • Visioning workshops
  • Co-design workshops
  • Theory of change/behaviour change modelling
  • Business modelling
  • Persona development
  • Service user journeys


This business model has spread and is now being utilised by new partners on the East coast of Canada having originated in the West.



More info


4 CEO’s of adult service providers; 5 senior members of staff (from range of providers); Lead Service Designer; Social Impact Lead; Organisational Change Lead; Lead Animator