Second round of lottery social incubator fund opens in May

Social Incubator Fund_ Funding - Big Lottery Fund

The second round of The BIG Lottery Social Incubator Fund has just been announced and will open to applications in May.

The registration deadline for an obligatory briefing event that interested applicants must attend has already closed — it ended on the 9th April, just five days after the Cabinet Office press release promoting this fund was issued. I emailed BIG today to query this and their reply simply confirmed that “the deadline of 9 April has now passed and unfortunately we are unable to reserve you a place”.

The fund aims to help more start-up social ventures into the social investment marketplace by offering greater levels of “incubation support” — hubs or centres where social enterprises can receive intensive support and help to become investment-ready.

The latest successful applicants to the fund have also just been announced and will receive over £1m each. They are:

  • Social incubator North — set up by the Key Fund (South Yorkshire).
  • The Hub Launchpad — which plans to deliver four seven-month incubator programmes in London and Birmingham.


According to this press release from the Cabinet Office, the Hub Launchpad, which is led by the Hub Westminster, includes co-investment from the Accord Housing Group.

The Cabinet Office describes the Hub Westminster as “Membership organisations of social start-ups providing a range of services to social businesses, in partnership with ‘The Long Run Venture’, an LLP which helps businesses and technologies deliver long run returns as well as measurably improved impact in the short term.”

God alone knows what that might mean. The Cabinet Office obviously finds the allure of social investment-speak so irresistible that it has decided to talk almost entirely in a jargon understood only by itself and a handful of ex-investment bankers…

If anyone knows more  please leave comments and I’ll add to this post. One of the great challenges we face in the current cash-starved climate is doing our bit to help make sure that enterprises looking for support can find it and can readily understand any terms and conditions attached to it.

If we can’t make things join-up a bit better than is currently the case then frankly the only social enterprises these grand new schemes reach will be a tiny handful of well-connected insiders…




Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website
  1. Tony Clabby Reply

    Is that the 09/04/13 that was on Tuesday?

  2. Alun Severn Reply

    Good point — if so it seems absurd: just five days after Cabinet Office press release about this was made public. I have emailed BIG to query…

  3. Judy Morgan Reply

    Is this yet another layer of money spent on programmes for Social Enterprise without direct investment into them? There seem to be a plethora of agencies being paid to dish money out but how much of it is really reaching the coal face? I need a tiny amount of investment to launch a business that has massive potential for earning money for social benefit but it seems harder to get that than higher cost, higher risk ventures. Re: the briefing it was far to short notice but it has ticked a box hasn’t it? Cynical not of Tunbridge Wells.

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