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18 August, 2014 - 14:16 By News Desk

Social enterprise Kick-start programme ramps up


A programme aimed at helping startup and early stage social ventures in the East of England has launched a new website to offer support and information to businesses with a social conscience.

Social Incubator East, an intensive support programme for people with an ambition to set up or grow a business dedicated to making positive social impact, will use their website to promote the new ventures they are working with, encourage others with a great idea to get in touch and act as a store of useful information and links.

Social Incubator East was set up by Cambridge charity Allia, with funding from the Cabinet Office, to encourage individuals and teams from the East of England to come forward with ideas to make a difference to the lives of others.

It is hosting regular Social Venture Weekends for new ventures to experience two days of world class training provided by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.

The venture weekends help to refine ideas, work through challenges and develop business plans and pitches. They also give startups the opportunity to share and test their ideas with other teams and learn from the experiences of successful entrepreneurs.

Teams that show potential to become successful and scalable social ventures are then invited to join the Social Incubator East programme, which offers up to 12 months of further training, business support, loan finance and free workspace.

The first venture weekend in June was supported by 41 enterprises, 10 of which have gone on to become the first cohort on the first Social Incubator East programme.

The new ventures include Goshawk Communications – which has the technology and team in place to enable hearing impaired people to personalise their mobile phones and devices so that their ability to hear is optimised. Effectively a hearing aid in the sky, this technology offers huge potential social and economic benefits.

Another is Turtle Dove Cambridge – looking to empower young women at risk of becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training) to develop life long careers, Turtle Dove designs and delivers a range of inspiring, creative events and work experience opportunities in Cambridge café settings.

A third is DNA Digest - a community of professionals working together to enable DNA data to be used to its full potential for the benefit of patients.

DNA Digest aims to secure the data, share the knowledge and accelerate diagnoses and treatments for genetic diseases affecting millions of people worldwide. Through its associated social venture, Nucleobase Ltd, it builds and hosts Open Source software projects that support and incentivise best practices for genomics data sharing.

Social Incubator East programme director Belinda Bell said: “We’re delighted to be launching our new website and we will be working hard to make it a valuable resource to social ventures who are starting out, and those who are further along the road to becoming viable businesses.

“Our first Social Venture Weekend yielded an amazing response from across the region and we would encourage everyone out there with a great idea to get involved in the next weekend in October - it could change their lives.”

The next Social Venture Weekend will be October 10-12. Cabinet Office funding means that the Social Venture Weekend costs just £50 including catering.

Teams invited to join the programme, will pay a further £100 for the follow-up three day training course. All other business support and workspace for up to 12 months is free.


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