Julian Ugarte

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2014
SociaLab

Citation

This profile was prepared when Julian Ugarte was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Julian Ugarte is leading a movement, beginning in Chile and already spreading across Latin America, to change who solves social problems and how. In a country whose social divide is among the worst in Latin America, Julian has created an ecosystem of cross-boundary collaboration to nurture social innovation and bring it from a peripheral to a mainstream activity. His goal is to activate in youth across the region the desire to play a part in social change, to present social innovation as an attractive vocational option, and to create an environment where they can realize positive changes for some of society’s biggest problems.

Julian’s efforts are producing a new mindset by challenging the mentality of youth culture, specifically its view of social problems as static and to something be dealt with by institutions. Socialab is a “cool” place for young people to work on new, socially-focused solutions and in turn promote innovation across Chile and the region. This is preparing young people to thrive in a new reality in Latin America by giving them a space to practice changemaking. With their successes, Julian is proving that the youth, in turn, have much to offer society with new answers to old problems.
Incubators for social projects are still scarce in Chile. Socialab is expanding and giving visibility to this concept through an online platform with 275,000 participants that generates discussions about creativity and as well as actual solutions to regional and local challenges. By encouraging people to be inventive, and through designing and implementing real tools for change, the public’s perception is shifting. The platform has already led to projects like Plasma Water Sanitation, a low cost water purification system, and Miroculus, a program that detects cancer through a low cost, early stage blood test.
Socialab offers live support in a physical space where they bring together social innovators in a co-working environment and also offer monetary assistance, coaching, and an ongoing support network. Adding the additional ingredients of cross-boundary teamwork, Julian collaborates with the government, the citizen sector, and businesses to build a broad ecosystem of expertise and reinforcement. Socialab’s online platform creates a self-sufficient loop of social innovation which builds awareness and enthusiasm and has already opened doors to other countries in Latin America which have invited Julian to replicate Socialab.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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