In the fall 2021 issue of “Stanford Social Innovation Review”, Professors Johanna Mair and Thomas Gegenhuber, both from Germany, stated that amidst severe challenges brought about by COVID-19, humankind needs a pragmatic, flexible and large-scale model for reinvigorating societal infrastructure. They highlighted the “need to experiment with social innovation based on collective action facilitated by digital technology.”

I wholeheartedly agree with and commend this message. In Taiwan, through collaboration between the social and public sectors, ideas and innovations have been sourced and implemented with concrete results. These include the SMS-based contact tracing system, 1922 vaccination appointment system and the 5000 Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers, all of which are social innovations resulting from collaboration with key stakeholders.

British economist Dr. Geoff Mulgan once said that with the popularization of information technology, a civil society in a free and open environment, as well as the resources and wisdom brought together by energetic citizens, are the best opportunities to overturn the future. Whether it is an innovative and entrepreneurial organization, or the masses who use mobile phones to scan QR Codes, all can contribute to changing society. This is the best example of “collective intelligence.”

On the fourth anniversary of the Social Innovation Lab, the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs selected the theme “Collective Intelligence.” By incorporating the word “intelligence(智),” which is a homophone of “production(製)” in Mandarin, the term highlights the combined intelligence of collective actions breaking through the siloes in traditional departments, and co-creating effective and practical solutions to social problems via cross-discipline connections.

Encapsulating the spirit of “Collective Intelligence in Practice”, the anniversary celebration aims to create a hub where everyone can speak freely and channel creativity. For three days starting Nov. 26, in addition to physical activities such as workshops, real-world puzzle games and concerts, all lectures – including the experience sharing the Asia-Pacific Social Innovation Partnership Award, demo discussions of Taiwanese social innovation groups and discussing the government’s progress regarding the promotion of corporately responsible consumption – will be held physically and online.

In addition, the social innovation market and exhibition will break the time and space constraints for the first time and move to Gather Town for 24 hours a day starting from Nov. 26. This approach reflects the phrase “reality is just another window.” Anyone can enter the booths at Gather Town, or switch to offline to go to the Social Innovation Lab at any time. Everyone can set their own space and create a unique reality. This is the core concept of shared reality.

As Professors Mair and Gegenhuber said, shaping group actions through digital technology will take social innovation to the next level. The anniversary of the Taipei Social Innovation Lab, through a series of activities, crosses barriers and creates a space for physical and virtual integration. Started as a gathering site for Taiwan’s social innovation organizations, the lab will transform into a testing ground for globally minded innovators to gather and exchange. From Nov. 26 to 28, join us in the “Collective Intelligence” ecosphere.