Our Social Enterprise and Innovation Programme (SEIP) has supported over 400 start-ups and existing social enterprises in the West of England; Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, since being funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in 2016.

The economic impact of the programme has been estimated at an impressive £33 million, with its social impact even more impressive, at over £200 million.

On 26 November we held a Celebration and Showcase for the Programme at the Guildhall. This followed a larger scale event at We the Curious in Bristol on 21 October, entitled The New Western Frontier, for over 300 delegates from the social enterprise network. Both took place to showcase the Programme and the achievements of the individuals and enterprises it has supported.

Dimo Dimov, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University and Programme Director, opened both events. He says:

Social Enterprise is an important, strategic sector for the economic development of the West of England. Three years ago we came together with the aim to create and sustain an innovation pipeline to help aspiring and current social entrepreneurs to further their ideas or ventures. These showcase events represent an opportunity to build on this legacy and look further ahead.

Speaking at the Guildhall celebration, Brian Prescott, Bath SETsquared Innovation Centre Director, said:

Historically the Innovation Centre’s role has been to enable commercialisation of research from within the University and to provide incubation for high tech and high growth start-ups. This programme has really paved the way for us to explore a new direction in social impact business, an approach of growing significance regionally and nationally.

The New Western Frontier included expert panels to discuss: Skills and Jobs, chaired by Nick Sturge, Engine Shed; Creative and Digital, chaired by Mehjabeen Patrick, Creative England; Housing and Place, chaired by Melissa Mean, Knowle West Media Centre; and Business and Society, chaired by Dirk Rohwedder, School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington.

Speaking at The New Western Frontier David Whittaker, Head of Services at Voscur, said:

We are working on new programmes now that’s going to build on the SEIP programme to try and make the support and enterprise development environment in Bristol and the surrounding area a bit more coherent so organisations can really see, here’s where we are today and here’s some help that’s going to help us to get to where we want to be tomorrow.

Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey, Vice-President (Strategic External Engagement) at University of Bath also spoke at both events.

The Social Enterprise and Innovation Programme (SEIP) is project managed by the University of Bath in partnership with Bath SETsquared Innovation Centre, The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), Voscur, and CVS South Gloucestershire.

Our strategic supporters who have played a vital role along the way include: North Somerset Council and The North Somerset Enterprise Agency, Business West, Bristol and Bath Regional Capital, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council, St John’s Hospital, Ashley Community Housing, Bates Wells Braithwaite LLP, and SETsquared.

More on the Social Enterprise and Innovation Programme (SEIP) and our other business acceleration hubs.

Photo, left to right: Prof Dimo Dimov, SEIP Director; Dirk Rohwedder, Head of the School of Social Entrepreneurs Dartington; Prof Veronica Hope Hailey, Vice-President (Strategic Corporate Engagement); Peter Steel, Chair of Trustees, CVS South Gloucestershire; Michelle Virgo, Business Development Manager, School of Social Entrepreneurs, Dartingon; Brian Prescott, Bath SETsquared Centre Manager.

European Union, European Development Fund