Scotland's next generation of social innovators unveiled

A project to restore an iconic community building, a business boosting ethical tourism in Scotland and an organic food producer have scooped awards in a national competition for their innovative ideas. 

The Social Innovation Competition delivered by social enterprise agency Firstport, celebrates individuals and start up companies in Scotland using their creativity and imagination to solve pressing social issues, focusing in 2017 on the themes of culture, heritage and tourism.

The winners were presented with their awards by Angela Constance MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, at a reception held by Social Enterprise Scotland in the Scottish Parliament last night (Tuesday 7 November). They receive £5000 each and tailored business support from Firstport.

Maria Perez, of Scotland’s Social Way, and Sarah Mackenzie, of Tain Picture House Regeneration Project, both won awards while the Young Social Innovator Award went to Jennifer Macdonald of Woodside Arran.

Scotland’s Social Way is an enterprise which aims to make visiting Scotland a world-changing experience. It will create the first countrywide map of opportunities provided by social and community enterprises, allowing ethical travellers to buy products and services that positively impact the community.

Tain Picture House Regeneration Project aims to restore the Old Picture House, a treasured building in the heart of Tain, to protect its heritage and culture whilst giving it social and economic purpose that will benefit the local community.

Woodside Arran is a community supported organic farm and delivery business, selling sustainable local produce to residents and businesses on the Isle of Arran.

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “Scotland is renowned around the world as a country of inventions and innovators, from scientific breakthroughs to engineering masterpieces to cultural successes.

“Supported by the Scottish Government, we launched a search for the next generation of Scottish social innovators who have the potential to make a real difference to their communities. Our brief was to find the most exciting, innovative ideas tackling social issues and we were very impressed with the quality of entries from the length and breadth of Scotland.”

“The winners of last year’s inaugural competition – Pianos on Prescription, Echo Shoes and Studio Pop – have gone onto expand their enterprises and win awards in the past 12 months. Huge congratulations to our 2017 winners - we look forward to supporting them on the next stage of their journey.”

Sarah MacKenzie of Tain Picture House Regeneration Project said: “Tain Picture House is a grade B listed building firmly placed in the heart of our community. Our aim is to come up with pragmatic and creative solutions that balance new uses with the need for conservation.

“Winning the Social Innovation Award allows us to get the first phase of our project underway. This involves bringing all generations together to create and enjoy enterprising events to generate more funds to support the final restoration phase of this special building, bringing our community closer together and giving them a sense of pride and place for the future."

Maria Perez, founder of Scotland’s Social Way, said: ”The award is an opportunity to make things real. It feels like being at the start of a race and someone comes to you with a glass of water saying “I know how much work you put into training; I believe you can do this'. It's the added confidence of knowing that you have supporters behind you. The Social Innovation Award will enable me to produce a professional logo and to develop the website in order to start trading.”

Jennifer Macdonald, Director of Woodside Arran CIC, said: "Winning the Young Social Innovator award means so much to Woodside Arran. Not only will it help to support our expansion plans but it allows us to fast track our plans to diversify bringing more local food produce to the island sooner."

The awards were presented as part of the 2017 Social Enterprise Awards Scotland.

Full details of all the awards at More information on the Social Innovation Competition at


For more information, contact Carol Stewart or Jess Gray, 0131 558 2724 or 07944 060322.

Editor Notes


Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise. We offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections.

Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund. Firstport is also part of the Just Enterprise consortium, with responsibility for providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland.

In total, Firstport has supported over 800 budding social entrepreneurs and helped to create two new social enterprises every week. More information is available at