London 2014


We are in a climate of continuous crisis in the public sector.  Although there is a consensus on the need to innovate and collaborate- many still don’t where to start or how to make the right connections. The Festival model facilitates collaboration between these people, many of whom are already doing social innovation but don’t identify as ‘innovators’, together with a community of social innovators, practitioners and experts. Each community is able to gain insight from each other, whether it’s the latest methods and tools for innovation, or examples of best practice that helps them increase their capacity to make lasting social change.

The Unusual Suspects Festival is a unique set of collaborative events, hosted by different organisations from a variety of sectors, across different venues in a city. It brings together people who would not usually meet, despite sharing an enthusiasm for creating real social change through collaboration. The design of the Unusual Suspects Festival facilitates serendipity between organisations and people, who would otherwise remain unconnected. It not only inspires, but also catalyses breakthrough thinking and action.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK Branch, first supported and collaborated with SIX (the Social Innovation Exchange) and Collaborate, to curate the first Unusual Suspects Festival in London in September 2014, during which 25 organisations hosted 28 events, and more than 1000 people participated. Following this success, we brought the Festival to Glasgow in October 2015 with the support of Nesta, Big Lottery Fund Scotland and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Another 35 organisations hosted 20 unique events over 3 days and more than 600 people attended.

About The Festival

What Happened in 2014?

28 Events

1500 Unusual Delegates


The 2014 London Festival featured 4 days of exciting events across London that explored how unlikely connections can create real social change. More than 35 different organisations came together to host 28 unique events during September 2-5, 2014 and saw over 1,500 people from 15 different countries participate and engage in the Festival.

The events ranged from a walk around Elephant & Castle exploring community engagement with redevelopment, to an event in the Houses of Parliament on how to create a movement for change, to a collaborative lunch that explored how Europe is using food to solve social divisions. Every session was unique and diverse and played to the strengths of our hosts, but all the sessions were designed to show the value of collaborating with different organisations.To see all of the sessions, see the programme booklet here. 

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