New programme helps social innovators become pitch-perfect

A new programme run at the Innovation Centre last week, brought together a dozen of Bath and the West of England's most promising social enterprises in the healthcare and well being sector and helped them prepare a business plan to attract finance and funding.

The Bath Social Innovation Programme was a pilot to assist early stage social entrepreneurs to develop the 'business case' for their ideas and make more effective pitches to funders using a "Dragons' Den" style format.

The Programme is part of the University's ambition to establish a Social Enterprise Hub where social entrepreneurs, funders and researchers can work together to help grow the sector and make it even more successful.

Programme leader Dr Richard Fairchild from our School of Management said: "We're delighted by the initial response to the programme. The entrepreneurs who attended last week's three-day event made some really excellent pitches to the panel of investors and funders.

"We'll be monitoring the development of the social enterprises that participated and will be inviting them back to the Innovation Centre in September to see how they've progressed.

"We're looking forward to developing the proposal for a Social Enterprise Hub with the West of England Local Enterprise
Partnership - this will allow our region to become a national leader in this growing sector."

Dr Louise Brown, from our Department of Social & Policy Sciences, is another of the academics leading the Programme leaders. She said: "The event last week far exceeded our expectations. The range of innovative ideas that people brought forward as potential solutions to current problems in health and social care were both exciting and creative.

"It was incredible to observe the distance people travelled from the initial idea to the final pitch in the space of three days and they obviously found the programme extremely helpful. It clearly demonstrated that there is a real need and appetite for this type of training in the region."

The event was well-received and praised by participants. "Having a great idea is one thing, asking for money to build it is a whole different ball game" said Ranjit Ghoshal, founder of One Million Steps: Building a Healthier World for Giving® a 100-day challenge where participants, who do not take part in traditional marathon challenges, walk 850km whilst raising money for charity.

"The Bath Social Innovation Programme took participants from a one-minute idea pitch to a five-minute 'investor ready' pitch. This focused our attention on the difficult work that needs to be done beyond the fun of having a great idea. We learnt the language, structure and critical financial information needed for a pitch to investors.

"The scary thing is suddenly noticing all the holes and praying a savvy investor is not going to spot and pick through them! But what better way to prepare for that than in a safe learning environment with great feedback?"

(L to R) B&NES Council Leader & West of England Local Enterprise Partnership Director Paul Crossley opens the Bath Social Innovation Programme at the Innovation Centre with RDSO Director Dr Jon Hunt; Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean of the School of Management; Professor Ian Butler, Dean of Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences; Programme leaders Drs Louise Brown & Richard Fairchild.

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