Durham College launches fifth applied research centre, the Social Impact Hub

It’s been estimated that Canadians are paying more to ignore Canada’s housing problem than they would to fix it, inflating costs related to health care, justice and other taxpayer-funded services. So, how do we fix an issue that is costing both those experiencing homelessness, and those that are not? The simple answer is through social innovation.

Over the last several years, through funded collaborations with community partners, Durham College (DC) has developed a distinct cluster of 14 valuable applied research projects focused on social innovation, receiving $1,324,544 in overall funding. These projects tackle everything from homelessness and mental health, to equity and accessibility, training and more.

Last week, following the successful launch of DC’s four previous applied research centres, the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) announced the opening of its new Social Impact Hub at a virtual event alongside numerous DC researchers, President Don Lovisa and John Henry, chair and CEO of The Regional Municipality of Durham and project partners.

“As a leading post-secondary institution and applied research centre, we are committed to exploring and developing solutions to the barriers our communities face,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “The applied research being completed at Durham College underscores the importance of innovation and ingenuity, and I am incredibly excited to see how the Social Impact Hub will help address the gaps and inequalities that exist within our society through this lens.”

Social innovation refers to a process, initiative or product that seeks to address a societal challenge by improving upon or redesigning the systems that make up our society. This type of work involves collective action through community partnerships, leading to valuable outcomes that benefit groups of people, not just the individual.

“Our researchers are passionate and committed in their drive to impact the lives of people in our community,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “I’m very proud to be launching the Social Impact Hub, to recognize their work and create a forum for ongoing dialogue and meaningful partnerships that lead to change.”

By leveraging faculty expertise, student talent and strong community partnerships, researchers at the Social Impact Hub will continue their work to identify creative solutions to complex social challenges through leading-edge social innovation projects and initiatives.

Ongoing projects at DC in this area of research include:

  • Building Bridges Together: Co-production of Financial Empowerment Strategies with People Experiencing Low Income
  • Innovation Through Co-production: A Holistic Approach to Supporting Social Competency in Pre-school Children
  • Enriching Firefighter Training Through the Development of a Novel Virtual Reality Training Simulation for Personalized Precision, Skill and Resilience Training
  • Enhancing Virtual Mentorship to Reduce Social Isolation of Youth
  • Support for Parents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

DC researchers have also completed a number of projects, including the unique Co-design of a Youth-led Housing Hub: Developing a Unique and Scalable Housing Model for Youth Living on Their Own in Durham.

For more information on the Social Impact Hub, please visit www.durhamcollege.ca/socialimpacthub or to collaborate or connect with the hub, please email socialimpacthub@durhamcollege.ca

ORSIE provides support for applied research through access to funding opportunities, faculty expertise, state-of-the-art research facilities, and student learning experiences. In partnership with industry and community agencies, projects are carried out by DC faculty experts and students and administered by ORSIE. Since its inception in 2009, ORSIE has undertaken 360 research projects and initiatives. To connect with ORSIE, please reach out online.