Why is social innovation needed for the recovery?

There has never been a more important need for ideas to tackle social issues in the UK than there is now. On 18 January 2021, we will launch Ideas for Impact, a call for ideas using social investment to solve a social problem in the UK.

If successful, organisations could receive up to £30,000 of development funding, as well as in-kind support. Ideas could relate to changing a part of the system that doesn’t work, bringing together partners in new ways, or aligning the needs of charities, social enterprises and investors with a social investment solution that is more effective than those currently available.

In previous blogs we have explored how social investment can plant the seeds for innovation and how an idea becomes an investment.

In this blog, we hear from a couple of our selection panel members, experts drawn from across the social enterprise, funding and fund management sector who will be reviewing the applications for Ideas for Impact, sharing their unique perspectives on why innovation is so important at this time.


Written by

Toyin Miller, Senior Relationship Manager, Triodos
Matthew Bowcock, Co-founder and Chair, The Beacon Collaborative

Toyin Miller, Senior Relationship Manager at Triodos, previously at SASC and CAF Venturesome

We’ve all witnessed the devastating effect of the pandemic this year. Disparities in society have been magnified and swathes of social issues remain unaddressed and underserved. How can we make sure that the recovery not only rectifies growing inequality, but also builds resilience to future crises?

This year we have seen the strength of the public and third sector, and the creative generosity of individuals supporting communities across the country. The idea that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ has never been more apparent. This is why I believe social innovation through finance can play a key role in creating a more inclusive and equitable recovery, and a new way of achieving social change and a fairer society.

The opportunity for social investment to deliver greater innovation is not a new concept. The ability for finance to ‘seed’ fresh ideas, from those with lived and first-hand experience has been proven to be successful, with innovative programs such as Fair By Design.

So, imagine what could be achieved in addressing societies greatest challenges, by scaling this concept further? How can we take the lessons of the past, and be braver and bolder? We need to bring in more people with first-hand lived experience, and design solutions with them, not just for them.

Matthew Bowcock, co-founder and Chair of the Beacon Collaborative

Where do great ideas come from and how do they get off the ground? Companies at the early stage are typically supported by seed funding from close acquaintances or through business angels until they are able to attract investment from venture funds. Does this support exist for social purpose-led ideas looking to develop and scale?

Philanthropy can often play a role by providing risk capital to back early stage social purpose ideas. However, there is still not enough of this type of financing due to a lack of formal infrastructure to catalyse investment into innovative, impactful and scalable ideas.

We need better ways of connecting those with the private assets that could be used for public good with the social innovators that are passionate about change, so that we can nurture these ideas from an early stage to rebuild a more resilient and effective civil society.

Stay tuned for more information and webinars on Ideas for Impact and look out for more details on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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