Past events

Widening Perspectives on Social Impact Bonds

Monday 12 - Tuesday 13 September 2016
Newcastle University London, 102 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EZ

Image of Event logos: PIRU, Rand Europe, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Newcastle University London, Centre for Knowledge, Innovation, Technology and Enterprise

Widening perspectives on social impact bonds:
New academic, critical, and interdisciplinary contributions on the use of Social Impact Bonds in public service delivery

On 12-13 September 2016, PIRU, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, RAND Europe and the Newcastle University Business School hosted the first academic conference on SIBs that brought fifty international researchers and practitioners together in London.

Substantial attention has been given to Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) since they were first mentioned by Gordon Brown’s Council on Social Action in 2007; however the thinking surrounding SIBs has largely been developed by proponents, practitioners, and policy-makers. The limited literature on SIBs has been focused on identifying practical lessons learnt from early SIB implementation, in the UK and USA, to feed into the development of more SIBs. This conference drew together academic voices from various disciplines to explore a number of empirical and theoretical questions that deserve further critical attention, and to inform and move beyond considerations around SIB implementation.

The conference fostered considered, critical, discussions regarding how we should understand SIBs within wider trends in policymaking, the relationships between the public, private and third sector, and the role of private and philanthropic capital in public service provision. The event featured keynote speeches from two international experts. In the first, Mildred Warner, Professor at the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, USA, spoke about the rise of SIBs and their political appeal in the United States. The second keynote from Alex Nicholls, Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, explored the proliferation of SIBs around the world. Presentations were organised around five distinct themes: SIB development and design, social investment, understanding outcomes, the politics of SIBs, and exploring the SIB effect. The conference concluded with a panel discussion led by Dr Emma Disley of RAND Europe, featuring Professor Mildred Warner from Cornell University, Professor Rob Wilson from Newcastle University, Ben Jupp from Social Finance, and Alina Sellman from the Cabinet Office’s Centre for SIBs, about themes arising from the conference and the future of SIBs in the UK and abroad.

To learn more about Mildred Warner and Alex Nicholls’ views about SIBs, see our videos:

Blogs arising from the conference will follow shortly here.

The conference was organized by Alec Fraser, Stefanie Tan (PIRU, LSHTM) and Jonathan Kimmitt (Newcastle University Business School) and was a joint initiative between the Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU) based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and RAND Europe, and the Centre of Knowledge, Innovation Technology and Enterprise (KITE) at Newcastle University Business School.

For further information, please contact Alec Fraser
or Stefanie Tan at PIRU.