Good Ideas Catalyst 2017 - RSA

Good Ideas Catalyst: Helping non-profits take the next big step in business development


  • Social enterprise
  • Fellowship

Are you an established non-profit organisation, based in Scotland, with the seed of a great idea that needs time and focus to make a reality? Would you like to develop your business, or a new product or service to increase your social impact? The Melting Pot is piloting a new, intensive, and fully funded two-day workshop especially to catalyse you.

What is the Good Ideas Catalyst?

The Good Ideas Catalyst is an amazing opportunity to take your non-profit organisation to to the next level. Twelve organisations and one or two representatives from each, will be selected to attend the event taking place in central Edinburgh on 4 and 5 September 2017. An intensive two-day facilitated process will include co-coaching support and a follow up session on 4 December. Submit your application to the programme before the deadline on Sunday 18 June.

The Melting Pot, Scotland’s Centre for Social Innovation, has been running a specialist social innovation incubation programme for five years. This has been aimed at start-ups and to date over 60 new organisations have been created. But now we know that existing social enterprises also need support that can help them to develop and grow. Claire Carpenter, MD of The Melting Pot:

“We’re at a point in the evolution of social innovation in Scotland. We need to start catalysing and serving existing social businesses, helping them reach the next level. The last 10 years has seen social enterprise take off in big way and it’s a trend that’s set to continue. Maturing and established organisations are also looking for ways to increase their scope and grow. We want to make sure they succeed in that by applying known techniques for ideation and design thinking to shape their business model which delivers inclusive growth.”

Social enterprise in Scotland

In fact, 42% of Scotland’s social enterprises have been established in the last ten years, with about 250 new social enterprises being started each year. The sector is contributing about £1.68 billion to the Scottish economy. Yet their value is in far more than GDP generated. Each and every social enterprise is directed toward solving a social or environmental problem and there are over 112,000 employees within those organisations.

Jan Brereton set up Blazing Saddles, an all-ability cycling project managed and administered by FABB Scotland (facilitating access breaking barriers). FABB work with partners to provide disabled children and young people access to leisure and recreational facilities of their choice and this year celebrate their 60th anniversary. However, in recent years new opportunities are afforded by different approaches to social enterprise, with a variety of legal frameworks available to enterprises and Jan wants to explore those possibilities:

“These are exciting times for FABB and Blazing Saddles. We are currently developing community hubs at 14 locations across Scotland that provide opportunities for disabled people to go cycling with their friends and families. We’re now looking at how we should take our success and make the most of it. This might mean constituting Blazing Saddles as a social enterprise of its own, which could open up further avenues of investment. We’re looking at how we can use that model across other activities, and maximise the recreational opportunities available to disabled people across Scotland and beyond. The Good Ideas Catalyst would give us the forum and support to explore those possibilities.”

The Good Ideas Catalyst is open to applications and is encouraging established organisations in the third sector to apply. Jane Bruce (Social Bite) and co-facilitator:

“Experience shows us that getting ambitious, creative and enterprising people into a room and exploring the potential of new ideas in a structured forum, is a powerful crucible for innovative thinking. You can’t replicate this in your normal place of work. It represents a rare opportunity to draw upon the experience and expertise of your peers in the sector in testing transformative ideas and turning them into real strategies for development. We’re really excited by the potential.”

Growing the social enterprise sector

The Scottish Government is financing the Catalyst programme as an intervention, aimed to help deliver its recently launched ten-year strategy for social enterprise. It sets out an ambitious commitment to the sector and a recognition of its vital importance in Scotland’s future:

“We will promote Scotland’s position as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a social enterprise… We will deliver a Social Economy Growth Fund, providing major grants that build capacity within the sector to create employment, improve skills and support disadvantaged areas and groups.”

There has never been a better time to explore the ambitions and catalyse the change you want in your third sector organisation. As well as co-coaching, you will be able to draw on the huge experience of Claire Carpenter, founder of The Melting Pot and Jane Bruce of Social Bite, Edinburgh. Together they have a wealth of experience developing social enterprises and achieving success in the Third sector.

If you’re in a senior role within an established organisation, visit the Good Ideas Catalyst page on The Melting Pot Website and send in an application. Applications will close at midnight of Sunday 18 June and applicants will be notified by Friday 23 June if they have secured a place.

First published here. 

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