Social Innovation 2024 Eligibility Criteria

The 2024 Social Innovation Challenge is focused on breaking barriers to better health and wellbeing.

This edition will look to support innovative social enterprise solutions that address the core inequalities related to health and wellbeing in Scotland. The Challenge invites applications for new projects that can remove key barriers preventing individuals or communities from enjoying their right to health and wellbeing. Solutions should be focused on delivering long-term positive social impact directly to individuals or communities.  

Please note that the Social Innovation Challenge cannot fund projects that seek to alleviate a crisis without tackling its root causes or those deploying well-established or already proven approaches. Instead, we want to fund new approaches that could deliver measurable impact by addressing core inequalities.

Who can apply?

  • Incorporated social enterprises, regardless of how long they have been operating or trading.
  • Unincorporated groups or community associations looking to start a social enterprise.
  • Individuals with an idea for a new social enterprise. 

Whilst you don’t have to already have a social enterprise set up to apply for this programme, the Social Innovation Challenge grant can only be released to incorporated social enterprises operating in Scotland. This means that if an applicant who is not yet incorporated wins (such as an individual or a community group), we will support them with the incorporation process before we pay out the award. If you would like more information about this, please contact us to discuss it further.  

We also welcome and encourage applications from collaborations between different organisations. Our Programme Manager can talk you through this process before applying.  

Eligibility criteria:

If applying as a registered social enterprise:  

  • The enterprise is incorporated and registered with OSCR or Companies House.   
  • The enterprise is an asset-locked body* with a registered office in Scotland.  

If applying as an individual or an unincorporated group:  

  • The lead applicant is 16 or over.  
  • The lead applicant is either a permanent resident of Scotland or has a visa / leave to remain that covers the award period (usually 2 years from the award date).  
  • 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 which breaks down core barriers driving inequality in health and well-being outcomes.  
  • The enterprise’s activities 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.  

*Asset lock: An asset lock is a clause within the governing documents of the enterprise which ensures that any profits are reinvested towards the business and its social aims. This means that no assets or uncapped dividends can be transferred out of the organisation to private individuals or bodies. Individuals working for the enterprise can take a fixed salary, but profits generated on top of this must be reinvested.  

**Direct social benefit: By this, we mean that we can only support projects which deliver impact (or social benefit) directly to their beneficiaries or the environment and that we cannot support projects which primarily work with other businesses, who then go on to deliver benefits to individuals or the environment. 

Previous and current Firstport applicants and awardees can apply as long as they have not already received a Social Innovation Challenge or a Social Innovation Competition award in the past. However, the project featured in their application must be new and innovative. Priority will be given to new applicants. 

Quality criteria:

Innovation: Proposed solutions need to have a strong element of innovation – either by tackling challenges from a new angle, deploying resources in inventive ways or creating new partnerships which are better equipped to understand and address these core issues. 

Lived experience or community involvement: We are only interested in solutions shaped alongside the individuals or communities they seek to serve.  

Potential for scale or replication: Ideally, the winning project would also show potential for scale or replicability so that other communities facing similar challenges can benefit from its learnings. 

Business potential: Projects should also be financially viable, ensuring that there is a business plan at the heart of the proposal which can show potential for generating income and, over the medium-to-long term, financial sustainability.   

Environmental sustainability: Last but not least, we will also want to understand how environmentally sustainable the proposed projects are, with a preference towards projects which consider their impact on the natural environment and alleviate any negative consequences as much as possible. This could either be through a Net Zero plan or through the inclusion of regenerative practices.