THE Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) has launched this week looking to fund and support innovators to kick-start solutions that tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. The programme is centred around a different theme each year. Building on the legacy of COP26, the 2022 theme seeks innovative solutions to climate change issues faced by rural communities in Scotland.
The Social Innovation Challenge will award up to a total of £50,000 in grant funding, as well as business advice, to support the development of new social enterprise solutions. By using a challenge model, where a reward is offered to whoever can first or most effectively solve a problem, the SIC hopes to incentivise innovators, social enterprises, and communities to apply their knowledge and drive to solve problems in new and imaginative ways.
The programme aims to aligns itself to Scotland’s Net Zero Nation ambitions, as well as contribute to Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy. The SIC is delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s agency for start-up social entrepreneurs, on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “The Scottish Government is at the forefront of climate action, and we are committed to working with social enterprises to address the issues faced by our rural communities.
“Scotland has a proud history of innovation, and the Social Innovation Challenge can play an important role in helping us achieve our net zero ambitions.”
Social innovations have the capacity to change people’s lives for the better. There are many examples of ideas that have endured the test of time and have shaped our lifestyle and culture – Meals on Wheels, the Big Issue and Parkrun are all examples of social innovations.
Firstport has already supported innovative ideas that offer solutions to rural and climate-related challenges. Examples include Woodside Arran, which champions community-supported agriculture to produce and offer locally grown food direct to all regions of the island, increase food security and create jobs for residents. In Falkirk, Sustainable Thinking Scotland develops biochar as a water remediation treatment, which helps remove polluting nutrients from lakes and lochs, as well as prevent water pollution at its source – agriculture.
Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are excited to launch this new iteration of the Social Innovation Challenge. Over the last few months, we have worked with communities and stakeholders across the country to identify the key climate-related issues faced by rural communities, as well as the barriers to solving these. The insights have shaped the design of the programme, so we are confident that the solutions that come forward will address real needs as identified by those who live in and love rural Scotland.”
Addressing climate change and achieving net zero are big challenges of our time but we know that social innovations can transform the way we live. By putting a big incentive behind it- the SIC grant will be the largest single award Firstport has ever made- we hope to encourage social entrepreneurs and innovators to rise to the challenge!”.
More information about the programme is available on the Firstport website. The Social Innovation Challenge will open for applications on Wednesday 3rd August and will close at noon on Friday 16 September.
An online launch event will be held on 3 August to provide more information and answer early questions from potential applicants or supporters. Interested individuals can register for the online event here.