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Social innovation: making the world a better place

Social innovation creates new social practices that aim at improving the well-being of people and societies in different areas such as education, health or working conditions. Successful social innovation is informed by the values of empowerment, fairness, and inclusion. Moreover, it targets local, national and global challenges such as inequality, poverty, climate change, racism, unemployment, suicide, mass migration, integration, loneliness or malnutrition.
These are some interesting examples of social innovation:

Apple has introduced an expansion on their ResearchKit, a tool that allowed researchers to collect data from users across the world. Thanks to the new CareKit, this data can be used for medical diagnoses, condition and treatment tracking. In addition, it enables people to take a more active role in their health. The CareKit is open-source and allows other third-party apps you choose to be able to use the data collected to track your health. The first app is for Parkinson’s disease, and it will be used at six major medical centers.

Edible utensils
Bakeys, an Indian company, started manufacturing edible cutlery, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic utensils. The spoons are made of rice, wheat or sorghum, and come in a variety of flavors like ginger-garlic and cumin. They have a shelf life of two years, and can last up to 20 minutes in hot liquid. Bakeys has sold 1.5 million spoons per year in India already, and now it’s expanding its production to edible chopsticks, cups and plates.

Algae water bottles
Product design student Ari Jónsson furthered the idea of biodegradable water bottles by creating the bottles out of red algae powder and water, which are naturally made and even edible. Jónsson decided to create this bottle after finding out that more than 50% of plastic is used only once and then discarded.

SMS Lifesavers app
When someone has a heart attack, time is crucial because the chances of survival drop by 10% for each minute without treatment. A Swedish digital agency recently developed a mobile app to provide people with assistance faster. SMS Lifesavers connects CPR-trained people with cardiac arrest patients in the vicinity while they wait for an ambulance. The app gives directions to the volunteers, basic instructions for CPR and a metronome to help them measure time.

Bacteria that can break down plastic
Only 14% of the world’s 342 million tons of plastic waste is recycled every year. While all plastic takes a long time to disintegrate, PET is particularly resistant. However, scientists in Japan have discovered a bacteria that can degrade this plastic within six weeks. If the scientists are able to increase the degrading ability of this bacteria, they can reduce the amount of plastic polluting the Earth.

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