We interviewed Stephen Paterson from National University of Management (NUM) in Cambodia, about his perspectives on Higher Education Institution’s role in the society. 

1) In your perspective, what kind of role should universities (HEIs) play in the society? What is HEI’s role supporting social innovation?

We think that universities should be actively engaged in the society.  As a Management University (e.g. Business School) in Phnom Penh, our focus is mostly engaging with the private sector, making sure that we offer programs which prepare students for the present and also emerging future economy.  Entrepreneurship and Innovation are key priorities as they help foster a more creative and problem solving mindset among our university graduates which is essential for success in the 21st century global economy.

2) What does social innovation look like in your country? What is it’s potential? 

For the last three years, our university has launched annual student based competitions which focus on solving social problems such as “The Clean and Green City” (2015), “Road Safety & Congestion” (2016) and “Food Safety” (2017).  These competitions bring together students from diverse backgrounds (e.g. business, engineering, food science, law, etc.) with the goal of having them come up with innovative solutions to key social programs.  The future of social innovation in Cambodia looks very bright.

3) What do you hope to achieve out of SEASIN project?

We hope to expand our network by connecting with other universities that are interested in social innovation.  This will enable us to learn from their experience, while also sharing our success stories.

4) How can we collaborate better across the region? 

I expect the SEASIN project will lead to new forms of cooperation across the region.  Once university partners get to know each other better, I expect that many new cooperative initiatives will emerge in the near future.

5) What are you most excited about for this project?

The launch of the Social Innovation Support Unit in November 2017.  This will serve as both a training event space and an incubation center for social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Find out more about NUM Social Innovation Lab’s partnership with Demine Robotics here.