Double celebration for Scottish social enterprise accelerator

LaunchMe, Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator is celebrating reaching a £1 million investment milestone, as well as announcing the fourth round of applications.

Delivered by Firstport, LaunchMe supports ambitious social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding, selected participants have the opportunity to apply for grant funding as co-investment to match any private investment they secure during the programme.

Originally commissioned in 2014 as a three-year programme through National Lottery Funding to grow the ambition and potential of social enterprises, LaunchMe has since helped 22 social enterprises to grow and increase their impact. 13 of them have gone on to raise over £1m of private investment, £235,000 from Social Investment Scotland and £700,001 of grant co-investment from the Big Lottery Fund. LaunchMe alumni include Locavore, Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket; Homes for Good, a social enterprise letting agency; and sandwich-shop chain Social Bite.

Building on the learning and success of the last three years, Firstport has secured the backing of the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to deliver a fourth round, with applications opening this week. In doing so it hopes to continue to raise the aspirations and capacity for growth of Scottish social enterprises.

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “Over the last four years we have worked hard at developing an accelerator model that allows driven social enterprises to achieve impact at scale, working with the Scottish investor community to deliver increased economic and social benefits. The fact that private investors have now directly invested more than £1m into the social enterprise community shows that the wider business world is beginning to understand its economic and societal benefits.

"We are grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for giving us the opportunity to test and adapt the model to thoroughly understand what it takes to deliver a social investment accelerator. Building on this learning we are launching the fourth round with increased ambitions and greater interest from the investor community. LaunchMe makes a unique contribution to both the Scotland Can Do framework and the Social Enterprise Action Plan, so it is fantastic to be working with the Scottish Government and HIE to deliver this latest round”.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities Aileen Campbell said: “I am delighted to confirm our continued support for LaunchMe as it opens for its fourth round of applications and celebrates its £1 million investment milestone.

“Scotland is one of best places in the world to start and grow a social enterprise. LaunchMe is a proven accelerator programme that allows social enterprises to scale up their level of activity and deliver increased economic and social impact, building on commitments outlined in our Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy and Action Plan.”

Anne MacDonald, Head of Social Enterprise at HIE, said: “HIE is delighted to be supporting this fourth round of LaunchMe. With support from investors, including HIE, this initiative offers a great opportunity to Highlands and Islands-based social enterprises who are keen to quickly scale-up their level of activity, widen their business opportunities and increase the levels of the social impact they achieve. HIE will be offering funding assistance to successful Highlands and Islands-based applicants to support their development proposals.”

Interested participants can visit the Firstport website for more information www.firstport.org.uk/launchme

For further information or images please contact Maria Ashley or Jess Gray on 0131 558 2724.

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Editor’s Notes
LaunchMe is delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise. We offer a full package of free business support and resources including start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections.

LaunchMe is Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator. Originally an initiative of the Big Lottery Fund, the latest round of LaunchMe is primarily funded by the Scottish Government, as well as Highlands & Islands Enterprise and supported by Barclays. The fourth intake opens on Tuesday 7 August and closes at noon on Monday 5 November.

More information about LaunchMe and its impact to date can be found in our report ‘LaunchMe: A model for scaling up ambitious social enterprises through social investment’.