The Unusual Suspects Festival

Exploring unlikely connections for social change

The Unusual Suspects Festival 2014 was a four-day international event that we curated in partnership with Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) and Collaborate to explore what happens when social innovation, collaboration, and a mix of unusual suspects come together to address some of society’s most pressing and complex challenges.

One objective of the Festival was to help transform the way in which challenges to public services are addressed by sharing the knowledge that exists within social innovation networks with a wider constituency of policy makers and practitioners, showcasing examples of innovative practice and seeding new partnerships.

Over four days, 35 different partners hosted more than 28 events. Around 1,000 individuals from 15 different countries attended these events. Sessions took place across London, demonstrating examples of collaborations where unlikely connections led to social change. Event hosts came from across the public, private and third sectors, including partnerships from social innovation support organisations, local councils, campaigning organisations and arts venues.

Each session was unique, ranging from a discussion in the Houses of Parliament to a walking tour of the regeneration of Elephant and Castle, and played to the strengths of the hosts whilst remaining focused on the importance of collaboration for social change.

Louise Pulford, Director of Social Innovation Exchange, reflected on the motives for hosting the festival:

We want more people to do more things together because we think that a conversation with someone with a different perspective helps us to imagine new possibilities and develop different outcomes.

The Foundation shares Collaborate’s proposition that “innovation needs collaboration in order to thrive” and is committed to continuing the conversation and forging further partnerships. In 2016 another Unusual Suspects Festival was held in Northern Ireland and in 2017 it returned to London. In 2018 it will take place in Seoul, as a collaborative effort between SIX, C. & Seoul Social Innovation Park.