Growth in investment secured to expand social economy, highlights government

A raft of private sector partners are strengthening their involvement in the UK’s rising social investment market as the Government’s work to grow the social economy continues to make giant strides.

Barclays, UBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Janssen Healthcare Innovation, are just some of the businesses match-funding investment to support six new start-up incubators as part of the £10m Social Incubator Fund (SIF), which is delivered by Big Lottery Fund on behalf of Cabinet Office, and today releases its next wave of capital.

Match funding and support is also being provided by a number of higher education institutions: University of Northampton, UCLB, Cambridge Judge Business School and Plymouth University.

Launched in 2012, the SIF provides grants to establish social incubators, which support the growth of social enterprises – businesses with a social purpose – that are in their early phases and need intense support to bring their ideas to fruition.

The incubators enable their ideas to develop and grow and take advantage of social investment opportunities.

The six new social incubators receiving funding today cover sectors such as education, health and technology and they also cover a wide breadth of locations around the UK.

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd said: “Britain is blessed with fantastic social entrepreneurs. More than ever we need to back their desire to find better solutions to our social problems. That is what the Social Incubator Fund is for.”

The first round of the SIF has already helped a number of incubators to support new social ventures expand their business and generate new employment.

Paul Miller, partner, Bethnal Green Ventures, who received funding in the first round of the fund said: “Support from the Social Incubator Fund has enabled Bethnal Green Ventures to thrive.

"We’ve supported two cohorts of ventures with support from SIF, Nesta and Nominet Trust so far. With 60% of the first group already having gone on to raise further funding, we’re looking forward to launching the second group very soon.”

A notable alumni of Bethnal Green Ventures is Fairphone, which produces a more ethical and environmentally sound mobile phone handset.

Other ventures supported through SIF include StudentFunder, a financial technology business with a social mission to remove financial barriers to education and Third Space Learning, a platform that connects schools to a network of specialist maths tutors.

StudentFunder and Know Maths are two of the first social ventures supported through Wayra UnLtd.

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