Social Innovation Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions Social Innovation Challenge

My enterprise will be trading across the whole of the UK.  Is this eligible?

There are no geographical restrictions on trading.  However, as the Social Innovation Challenge is funded by the Scottish Government, the majority of the social impact must be delivered in Scotland.  This means that the majority of people who will benefit from the good work of the enterprise must live in Scotland.

I need funding for more than one salary. Can this be covered?

The Social Innovation Challenge grant can be spent on salary costs to allow one or more individuals to dedicate time to developing the enterprise. However, we would like to see applications that seek to do more than cover one person’s salary costs and can demonstrate a mature understanding of their business needs. Any roles paid for through the Social Innovation Challenge must abide by Living Wage and Fair Work First standards.

What is ‘direct social benefit’?

When a social enterprise carries out work or provides services itself for the good of its beneficiaries (this could be individuals, a community, or even the environment) we define this as ‘direct social benefit’.  On the other hand, when a social enterprise provides services to other organisations, who then go on to do the work with beneficiaries, this would be defined as ‘indirect social benefit’.

For example: an enterprise providing counselling services to a vulnerable group would be seen as direct social benefit; an enterprise providing counselling training to a charity who then provides this counselling to their beneficiaries would be seen as indirect social benefit.

I am looking to create a new social enterprise in partnership with other individuals and organisations. How do I evidence this in my application?

We want to encourage new ideas that are built on collaboration. If you have an idea that could be delivered through a new social enterprise, we would want to see that you have given extensive thought to how the social enterprise would operate, who the beneficiaries would be and that you have identified a suitable asset lock mechanism.

I am putting an application through an existing social enterprise.  How much evidence of income generation and social impact is required?

For the purposes of the Social Innovation Challenge, we do not require a track record of income generation or social impact, as we are keen to encourage strong new ideas that need a bit of support to get started.

What we are looking for in a successful application is strong evidence of the potential to generate both sustainable levels of income and significant social impact from your innovative new idea.  For existing social enterprises, this could be strengthened by being able to show that you have delivered projects that have been successful in these areas to date.

What do you mean by innovation?

  • Projects that are implementing an entirely new approach that has not been tried elsewhere, but which has the potential to succeed based on evidence to date; or 
  • Projects that are implementing tried and tested ideas in a new way; or 
  • Projects that are reinventing an existing approach or way of working which has not previously been used to tackle their particular social or environmental issue; or 
  • Projects where the core idea / solution is not new in itself, but has not yet been tried in the applicant’s geographical area or for their chosen social impact; or
  • Evidence or a commitment to working with research partners to test potential and effectiveness of an idea; or
  • Evidence of interest in innovation/pushing boundaries/thinking outside the box.

What do you meant by community engagement and participation?

It is important to make sure that those affected by the issues we are seeking to address are involved in the development of the proposed solutions. Therefore, we would like to see applications which can demonstrate that they have direct links with or that they have taken steps to engage relevant communities in conversations around the challenges they face and the potential solutions that could be developed.

We would also like to see that there are partnerships or mechanisms in place to test and deliver the solution within a relevant community.

You mention that you can cover cost for research and development, but not consultancy fees for business plans, market research, or feasibility studies. Does that mean applicants cannot work with academics on feasibility studies?

The Social Innovation Challenge can cover research costs where they are linked to monitoring, improving or scaling up a project and we actively encourage partnering up with academics who can deliver this work. However, we cannot cover earlier-stage feasibility studies that are investigating whether a project can go ahead or not. The Social Innovation Challenge aims to deliver social impact so there needs to be a clear potential to deliver positive social or environmental impacts.

Can applicants combine the Social Innovation Challenge with match-funding from other sources to create more capacity or to fund more roles?

Yes. You are encouraged to include details of other funds that you are applying for to potentially match with the Social Innovation Challenge. Each application will be considered as a whole on a case-by-case basis by the shortlisting and (if shortlisted) the judging panel.

£50,000 is not enough for my social enterprise solution.  Will you be giving support and guidance on other sources of funding?

The Social Innovation Challenge is awarding the largest single grant Firstport has been able to offer to date (£50,000). This acknowledges the additional challenges that innovative ideas face when looking to get off the ground. Like all social enterprises, the winner(s) of this challenge are likely to need support from a range of different sources, and we aim to help with that by building a personalised programme of support around the winner(s) of the Social Innovation Challenge. If what you need is additional funding or social investment, we will work with you to identify appropriate sources of funding, as well as looking at a programme of support to get you and your enterprise ready for taking on additional funds or social investment.

The Social Innovation Challenge is accepting applications from innovators at all stages of development. How will you compare applications from very early stage organisations, that might have great potential but take a while to get there, with those from more established organisations that can deliver impact more quickly?

We opened up the criteria for the Social Innovation Challenge to enable applications from anyone with a great social enterprise solution in response to the year’s theme. During assessment, we will consider each application on a case by case basis, but we will look for the strongest proposals when deciding the shortlist. We will look at how innovative the ideas are, their potential to create social and environmental impact, the links to the communities that they are planning to benefit and their potential to generate income to support the social mission.