The ‘Impact Revolution’: can capitalism be reshaped to drive real change?

Sir Ronald Cohen and Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville

We did not imagine this future. The world is still marked by human suffering and inequity and deepening environmental crisis.

The problems with modern capitalism and neoliberalism have been laid bare. The widening gap between rich and poor is an existential threat to us all, as the pandemic has shown. Unchecked growth puts the planet in peril through accelerating changes to climate and losses to biodiversity.

Can we transition to a different form of capitalism that embeds impact alongside profit? How can we measure and promote positive social and environment impact, and also account for negative impacts? How do we ensure real, sustainable change is achieved – not just empty ‘purpose-washing’?

In our recent Social Entrepreneurship Lecture The ‘Impact Revolution’: can capitalism be reshaped to drive real change?, leading impact investor Sir Ronald Cohen and Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Diageo Professor at the Cambridge Judge Business School and Fellow of Trinity Hall, discussed Sir Ronald’s proposals for change.

Sir Ronald argues that we must embrace the ‘invisible heart’ of markets, embedding measurable impact as a driver in every investment, business, consumption and policy decision we make.

Watch the discussion:

If this conversation leaves you inspired, there are myriad ways to get involved with social innovation and entrepreneurship through both Trinity Hall and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation.

Many of these are open to everyone, not just students and alumni. They include public lectures; opportunities to host student volunteers and interns; direct support for emerging entrepreneurs to develop new business ideas; and the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, which is awarded annually to four outstanding leaders of social enterprises.


Trinity Hall worked in partnership with the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation, one of the newest centres at Cambridge Judge Business School, to host the Trinity Hall Social Entrepreneurship Lecture which was live steamed on Thursday 14 January 2021.

With the generous support of alumnus and Honorary Fellow, Graham Ross Russell, the College and the Centre are working together to build a community-of-practice around social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Together we award the annual Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, celebrating outstanding founder-CEOs of successful, scalable, social enterprises with a proven record of impact. Through events like this, we hope to inspire others to consider how they too can create impact in their life and work.