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$2.3 million for the social economy

Karl Polanyi Institute wins provincial support as co-founder of new umbrella organization
October 22, 2013
By Tom Peacock

Le Musée de l’imprimerie du Québec
Le Musée de l’imprimerie du Québec, founded in 2007, is an example of an institution functioning within the social economy. | Photo by Pierre Baraby/Courtesy of the Chantier de l’économie sociale

The Government of Quebec has announced its support for the establishment of a new umbrella group to support the social economy, known as the Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS), with a grant of $2.3 million over the next three years.

Concordia’s Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy is one of four founding organizations that will bring together the province’s wealth of researchers and practitioners to look at the role of the social economy in promoting sustainable development and societal well-being.

“It’s big news, and very good news,” says Marguerite Mendell, director of the Karl Polanyi Institute and interim-principal of the School of Community and Public Affairs. “We’ve been working quite hard to put together the basic foundations for this, so once the funding came through we would be up and running.”

The new organization will be one of three groups dedicated to strengthening social innovation in the province — known as Organismes de liaison et de transfert en innovation sociale (OLTIS)  that are funded by Quebec’s Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie.

“The TIESS-OLTIS is an initiative created to share and disseminate knowledge, practice, experience and research in the social economy,” Mendell says. “All of us who are involved are committed to the process of knowledge-sharing, and the co-construction of knowledge.”

The list of institutions associated with the new TIESS-OLTIS is long, and includes various universities, research centres and regional social economy networks located across the province. The three other founding institutions are the Chantier de l'économie sociale, the Centre de recherche sur les innovations sociales, and the Service aux collectivités of the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Despite its many affiliations, the new umbrella organization will function autonomously, with its own staff, in its own space. Three staff members have already been hired, and the organization will soon move into a newly renovated space in the Maison de la Providence, a converted convent in Montreal’s East End.

Mendell says the creation of the TIESS-OLTIS is wonderful news for Concordia, because it exemplifies the university’s commitment to community-based learning.

“This is, historically, what Concordia has been doing, and it’s exciting that we are now part of an organization that spans the province, and reflects our values, our objectives and what we do well.”

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