This article was originally posted in Stanford News. An excerpt follows below:
Unlike medicine and engineering, which have strong research and development pipelines leading from scientific advances to practical innovations, the social sciences lack a similar infrastructure, slowing the rate at which data and insights generated by social science research shape the design of new solutions.
That’s the gap addressed by the Stanford Impact Labs (SIL), an accelerator that arose as part of the university’s Long-Range Vision. SIL’s goal is to maximize the impact of the university’s research and engagement on social problems through partnerships with the public, private and social sectors. The initiative (formerly called Social X-Change) models what a new R&D pipeline – one with significant investments in promising partnerships, a cadre of professional staff, and innovative training and education – could look like. When the investments yield compelling solutions, SIL works with faculty and their external collaborators to scale those innovations to other contexts around the country and the globe.
“We want to make Stanford as vital to innovation around social problems as it is to innovation in the life sciences, business and engineering,” said Jeremy Weinstein, professor of political science in the School of Humanities and Sciences, who is the faculty director of the initiative.