Developing Canada’s Social R&D Field

Across Canada, community leaders and innovators are using approaches from Research & Development (R&D) to better understand and address social issues in their communities.

Using techniques such as prototyping, human-centered design, social labs, data measurement, and ethnography, we are testing new ideas, creating new evidence of what’s working and what isn’t, and sharing these approaches with each other so that we can develop together and scale.

We are a diverse community with practitioners coming from the nonprofit, charitable, corporate, and public sectors. If you’re running experiments to try to address social issues, join us.

Help Shape a Social R&D Prototype Evaluation Guide

Despite the increase in Social R & D activities across Canada, there are very few resources to help practitioners evaluate the prototypes that emerge from the work. SI Canada and Mark Cabaj are developing an evaluation prototype guide to help social innovators to develop and test promising ideas.

Would you like to help shape this resource? Learn more!


R&D is a relationship between multiple interconnected practices. It can uncover new knowledge and generate solutions that are radically more efficient and/or effective than current approaches.

The document ‘Social R&D. Practices and Patterns V1.0’ is an exploration into what strong R&D practices look like.

Learn more about other skills, tolls, and resources.


Since 2015, the Social R&D Community of Practice has been advancing the adoption and visibility of social R&D in Canada and internationally.

The McConnell Foundation and Social Innovation Generation began this work by issuing a number of important foundational reports that have demonstrated why social purpose organizations also need to invest in our own capacity to experiment.

Learn about the Declaration of Action, Getting to Moonshot and other key milestones.

Join the Social R&D Community

The Social R&D Community is a network of practitioners dedicated to growing the craft of research and development, on the frontline, to generate new knowledge and innovations that transform lives.

Sign up for our newsletter and join the activities of the Social R&D Community of Practice.

The Social R&D Program is supported by: