UMIP Awards for Social Enterprise innovation create buzz in Manchester


(1st row l-r: Helen Chilton – High Expectations for Deaf Children, Dr Jenna Ashton – The Silence of the Photograph, Catriona Kennedy – Smart Assistance App, Jane Raftery – MaccFutures, Liz McIllroy- iBop, Dr Raj Ariyaratnam – SOSTEK-M)

As another academic year closes, we were proud to showcase our Social Entrepreneurs to an audience of representatives from the University, successful social entrepreneurs and the local business support community. Our Social Enterprise Competition 2014, which was open to all University staff and academics, has resulted in 7 outstanding social entrepreneurs receiving £14000 of awards to further develop their ideas.

To celebrate their achievements, our UMIP Showcasing Social Entrepreneurs Event was held on July 17th at our Innovation Centre, UMIC. We showcased a wide range of innovative ideas, addressing social or environmental needs from a solar powered LED lighting system to using visual imagery to connect arts and science.

Dr Gill Green, STORM Skills Training CIC CEO and UMIP social enterprise ambassador, comments: “The calibre of the social enterprises on show was inspiring, as was the University’s ambition to embrace this area and become a beacon university for social enterprise. Staff and students alike can feel real pride in what has been created in such a brief period of time.”

There were two categories to reflect the development stage of enterprise ideas and over the course of the competition we have awarded:

  • 4 Try it Awards: for social entrepreneurs to try out their ideas by finding out if their idea is viable, learning more about what is needed and trying the project on a small scale initially.
  • 3 Do it Awards: to allow an entrepreneurial idea to grow. Do It Awards are for social entrepreneurs who are confident their project will work and have the basic skills to ‘do it’.

Dr Laura Etchells, UMIP’s Enterprise and Business Development Manager, comments: “The continued support from UnLtd through their programmes has been invaluable in helping us to really build on our existing commercialisation operations to find, fund and support social entrepreneurs from across the University. The competition this year has again been very successful and we received over 19 applications from entrepreneurial staff identifying social enterprise ideas with real societal benefit.”

As well as funding these new ideas, we have been focusing on developing some of the opportunities from last year’s programme and we now have a jointly funded Build It Award (Helen Power, Levenshulme Market) with UnLtd and two social ventures being pursued through the UMIP Entrepreneur in Transit (EiT) initiative (HiSolar and PLP). The University is also extremely pleased to announce it has recently secured Scale and Growth funding from UnLtd and HEFCE to continue supporting social entrepreneurs who’s ideas are beginning to reach a scalable point.

The Enterprise Team will be continuing to actively seek budding social entrepreneurs to test out their ideas and will be looking to support our existing cohort of awardees as they start to scale and grow their enterprises.