The rebrand of the centre, which focuses on leveraging business strategies to advance social and environmental change, was prompted by continued violence in the Middle East committed by the militant group sharing the former name.
“The atrocities taking place in Syria and Iraq at the hands of ISIS combatants are horrific and run completely counter to our humanitarian goals,” says the centre's Executive Director James Tansey, an Associate Professor at Sauder.
“Over the past several years we have made great strides building positive associations between our work and our brand. These associations are being tarnished and we’ve become increasingly concerned that our outreach efforts are being hampered by miscommunications, especially as we reach out to build new relationships.”
The centre’s name reflects its greater emphasis on impact investment, a strategy balancing social and environmental objectives with financial goals. The centre is currently developing the UBC Impact Seed Fund, which will provide capital to promising social ventures originating at the university. It also produced the recent report Demystifying Impact Investing, which evaluates the size, scope and scale of the sector.
“This rebrand presented us with the opportunity to assess the work that we’re doing now and will be doing in the future to ensure they are reflected in a name we can live with for the long term,” says Tansey. “While what motivated the process is most certainly negative, the work we have done with our founding partners and community to arrive at a solution has been very rewarding.”
Initiated in 2007, the ISIS Research Centre was officially launched in 2009 with the generous support of the Swift and Lalji families and a goal to harness Sauder’s thought leadership, students and resources to drive social innovation and sustainability.
The centre is now a leader at the University of British Columbia in promoting social venture development, and operates the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, a one-year accelerator program for start-ups driven to create social and environmental impact through business. It is currently developing a network of programming and resources at UBC to promote social innovation, including an undergraduate training program, and a social venture boot-camp with entrepreneurship@UBC designed to take students from idea to social venture start-up in five weeks.