Sparking Social Enterprise Innovation
A new cross border project called Spark Social Enterprise will help social enterprises become more successful in the commercial markets through innovative ideas. The project will do this through a range of innovation support tools and activities with a project budget of €3,085,633 over four years. € 1,851,379 of this funding was granted from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the rest of the budget is matched by project partners.
The project is a collaboration between partners in England, Belgium, Holland and France including The Platform as lead partner, University of Brighton, West Sussex County Council, Social Innovation Factory, De Punt, Seinwezen, Kennisland and Region Pas de Calais.
Social enterprises are businesses which have a social or environmental mission and generate income through trading goods and services. Rather than profits going to shareholders, they reinvest their profits into furthering their mission.
The Spark Project is drawing on the existing range of knowledge, tools, networks and methods that support social enterprise and innovation and refining them through new research and development. The project will bring about growth to the social enterprise sector through new partnerships, research and development, and creating more effective models and tools for social enterprise support.
“Social enterprises are well placed to meet the challenges of our changing world, yet their dual missions of social purpose and business create complex needs. The Spark Project will develop specialised innovation support and solutions to enable the growth of the sector”
Fiona Ras, The Platform (lead partner).
The project is currently carrying out research with social enterprises, support organisations and stakeholders. Once completed, this research will form the basis of the creation of a cross-border strategy and action plan to learn from practices in different countries, a new model to support social enterprises to innovate, and a network of specialists from across sectors to support them. Support will be offered through an accelerator programme, which will include opportunities for social entrepreneurs to visit social enterprises in other countries to both learn and expand their businesses, and an online tool for startups.