Model: Find, Fund and Support
The University of Teesside has been involved with Social Enterprise (SE) in some form for a couple of years. However, this is the first time they have provided direct support to Social Entrepreneurs, which has served to enhance existing activities.
Teesside has an established Enterprise Business Support Team. This entrepreneurial activity will also provide individuals with the skills and personal development that will aid employability. Their relationship with those Award Winners achieving a Try It Award is established and maintained with a view to supporting them to continue on their journey and perhaps become Start Ups in the future. A Social Entrepreneur in Residence, Acumen, provides coaching, mentoring and training for Award Winners.
The Delivery Team
Karen Race, Deputy Director of Academic Enterprise and Eileen Wicks, Graduate Enterprise Manager are the main drivers on this Programme. Acumen, as their Social Entrepreneur in Residence, is a local SE with a great deal of experience in SE Start Up Development. Three Assistant Deans from the Schools of Social Sciences, Art and Media, and Health & Social Care had the role of driving up enterprise activities.
Teesside is also currently managing an ERDF funded initiative on their Graduate Enterprise Programme. As a result, they have excellent processes and structures in place in the support of entrepreneurial activity. Through very 'tight and controlled' management processes, Teesside has successfully operated according to their project delivery plan and target setting. A database of all leads and enquiries has been established enabling them to track progress. This will prove invaluable as a tool to maintain links and monitor progress beyond the life of this Programme.
There were 3 Awards Rounds during the Programme that worked well. This allowed time to promote, manage applications and promote again for the next Awards Session. It's now an established process and can be repeated in future years.
Did it go according to plan?
Everything went according to plan. Having a Social Entrepreneur in Residence has proved highly beneficial in providing workshops and one-to-one support for Award Winners. However, engagement activities stalled a little in the early stages of the Programme. (See lessons learned below).
As mentioned previously, Teesside has a formal partnership arrangement with Acumen in the delivery of this Programme for a 12 month period. Their support for Award Winners in the form of coaching, mentoring and training has been really successful.
More informal partnerships have also been developed with local community organisations. The University is now organising and hosting community events in order to facilitate networking opportunities at a more local level.
Nothing has been insurmountable. There is an acknowledgement that the Delivery Team also need support from external agencies to enhance their existing provision. In particular, being able to signpost individuals to other agencies/organisations in order for them to access opportunities in their wider community is essential.
Achievements and Successes
Since July 2012 Teesside supported 3 new SE Start Ups who have received 8 full days' worth of business support from their Team. In the pipeline, they'll have another 4 by the end of October 2013. Three of these individuals are Award Winners from this Programme.
This initiative has definitely brought a focus to the University. They are now completely sold on the concept! Staff, students and graduates are all really keen and have developed a real commitment to the success of the Programme - not because they've had to, but because they're fully on board.
Through the Programme Teesside University received 32 enquiries and 7 actual Start Up social enterprises from July 2012 - Oct 2013.
Outcomes and Impact
When asked about their outcomes and impact:
"It's fair to say that small amounts of money, in the form of Awards, really does inspire people to take forward their ideas. This has been unexpected, particularly with students. On £250 they have been managing projects, with social aims, in such resourceful ways. Without this, great ideas would never have come to fruition." Eileen Wicks, Graduate Enterprise Manager
The Team have been able to work with students to help them think about what their passion is and then successfully facilitated them to realise this is something that could be a career with a sustainable future.
The Social Entrepreneur in Residence has proven to be really successful as part of the support provision. However, it has been difficult for them to engage with University staff. Internal Ambassadors, therefore, will be introduced next time in order to raise awareness across the Institute.
Teesside have plans for the future regardless of further national initiatives. However, they would welcome the opportunity to work in Partnership with HEFCE and UnLtd in the future.
They've developed a SE Communication Plan for staff and students. They've also already developed promotional materials ready for Freshers' Week in October. Their Plan for Project Monitoring will continue, enabling them to engage and keep connected with Award Winners, enquirers and networks. This will be useful for tracking their Award Winner progress.
Teesside have plans for 6 events already scheduled for the next 12 months. These will consist of 2 events each for their local Community, Students and Staff. During GEW Week they will also be hosting a SE event.
Finally, they are currently working on developing volunteering and placement/intern schemes for students to gain experience in the SE Sector.