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Coming Up: Social Innovation Challenge

The Social Innovation Challenge is a re-designed funding programme to support innovative social enterprise solutions to challenges faced by individuals, communities and the environment.

Who's it for?

Individuals, new or existing social enterprises or collaborative ventures will be eligible to apply.

What do I get?

Up to £50,000 and a personalised programme of support for all shortlisted applications.

Where do I apply?

The competition will open in summer 2022.

What is the Social Innovation Challenge redesign?

Building on the experience of the Social Innovation Competition, which ran between 2016 – 2020, the Social Innovation Challenge will be a redesigned programme to support innovative social enterprise solutions to challenges faced by individuals, communities and the environment. 

We have carried out user research between April – June 2022 to ensure that the new programme and the grant process are informed and shaped by real needs, as experienced by aspiring and early-stage social entrepreneurs. We also want to make sure that the programme fits within the wider innovation funding landscape, complementing the support and resources that exist already. 


What is the Funding for?

This programme will award up to £50,000 to support the development of new social enterprise solutions in response to the annual challenge theme. Eligible applicants may apply for funds to help them with start up fees, research and development, salaries and other essential costs, such as rent or key equipment.

Further guidance to follow once the challenge launches on 20 July.


Who can apply? 

Individuals, as well as new or existing social enterprises can apply. Collaborative applications from partners looking to co-create a joint social enterprise solution are also welcome and encouraged.


The theme: Climate change and rural communities

The Social Innovation Challenge will address annual themes. The 2022 theme will be centred on the legacy of COP26, seeking innovative solutions to climate challenge issues faced by rural communities in Scotland. Additional criteria will be set as a result of the user research. 


Eligibility Criteria:

Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria

If applying as an individual:

  • The applicant is 16 or over.
  • The applicant is a permanent resident of Scotland.
  • There is an intention to incorporate an asset-locked social enterprise with a registered office in Scotland (funding will be released on successful incorporation.)

If applying as a registered social enterprise:

  • The enterprise is incorporated and registered with the OSCR or Companies House.
  • The enterprise’s registered office is in Scotland.

If applying as a new partnership / collaboration

  • The organisations involved in the partnership are primarily operating in Scotland.
  • There is an intention to incorporate an asset-locked social enterprise with a registered office in Scotland (funding will be released on successful incorporation.)

Applicable to all submissions:

  • The funded project must seek to provide an innovative solution to climate challenge issues faced primarily by rural communities in Scotland. We will welcome applications that seek to extend their reach internationally over the longer term, but applications that do not begin by primarily benefiting Scottish communities will not be eligible for this Scottish Government funded project.
  • The activities of the enterprise do not involve political campaigning or the advancement of religion.
  • The enterprise aims to provide direct social benefit to individuals, communities, and/or the environment.
  • Profits from the enterprise are reinvested in the business and its social aims. No assets or uncapped dividends are transferred out of the organisation to private individuals or bodies. Please note that the applicant (or any other individuals working for the enterprise) may still be able to take a fixed salary, but profits generated on top must be reinvested.

Previous Firstport applicants and awardees can apply to the Social Innovation Challenge. However, the idea must be new and priority will be given to new applicants

As this grant can only be released to incorporated social enterprises, successful applicants who are not yet incorporated will be linked to support to help them plan and achieve this target so they can access the funding. If you would like more information about this, please contact us to discuss further.


Have a question? 

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for then get in touch via our Contact Us page, by phone or email: info@firstport.org.uk. 

Once the application process is open, you will also be able to book time with the Social Innovation Challenge Programme Manager to ask any other questions.


Find out more:

To be notified when the Social Innovation Challenge launches, register for our newsletter below.

Our Social Innovation Challenge Programme Manager, Carmen Paputa-Dutu, has written a blog post sharing her reflections on kickstarting the user research. Check it out if you’re interested in learning more about the redesign process.

Success stories