UK’s first energy-focused social investment fund launched – new initiative to grow entrepreneurial spirit

ignite_iiA new initiative has been launched to find ten of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs who are working to tackle energy challenges and making real, sustainable change in their communities.  Established by Ignite Social Enterprise, a social investment fund focused on energy-related businesses and enterprises and backed by Centrica plc, the aim of the Big Energy Idea is to help the social entrepreneurs to grow their ventures.

The Big Energy Idea will provide ten energy social entrepreneurs with an individual package of support and the potential for funding of a minimum £50,000 to grow the social impact they create.

Ignite is seeking new ways to tackle the challenges that UK society faces through energy-related entrepreneurs.  The profits from Ignite’s investments will be reinvested and recycled back to help more social enterprises and ventures grow and scale up their work.

Applications opened in December for the Big Energy Idea, with applications closing at the end of February 2014.  Twenty finalists will then be selected to attend an event in April to pitch their business idea to a panel of experts, before the ten successful entrepreneurs are announced in April 2014.

The Big Energy Idea is being run by Ignite in collaboration with Wayra, a technology-focused accelerator programme providing support to companies in the digital space.  Working in collaboration, these two partners will provide investment, support, connections and expert advice to help the successful energy businesses, with up to three winning a place at the WayraAcademy in London.

Sam Laidlaw, Centrica Chief Executive, said:

“I believe that the answers to society’s challenges do not lie solely with the private sector or the public sector, but with social entrepreneurs, in communities, and in cross-sector partnerships.  I am passionate about the potential for Ignite to help find and grow energy related social enterprises to innovate and create these answers”

Simon Devonshire, Wayra Europe Director, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Centrica to make a difference to businesses within the energy sector who are pioneering sustainable and social change.  Wayra has vast expertise and knowledge from accelerating start-ups around the world.  Wayra also has significant experience in Social Venturing via the WayraUnLtd academy in London, a partnership part funded by the UK Government’s Social Incubation Fund.  For Wayra this is a great partnership with another big corporate brand – I am especially passionate about the power of acceleration for start-ups coming from a partnership of one of the world’s biggest telco’s, Telefonica, combined with one of the world’s biggest energy companies. We greatly look forward to working closely with Centrica on both the selection of the successful teams, and their subsequent acceleration”.

Ignite is investing time, money and support into energy-related social enterprises, and is aiming to invest a minimum £10m over 10 years with investments ranging between £50,000 and £2m.  Its first investment will be £500,000, into a social enterprise called Midlands Together CIC, which creates full-time jobs for ex-offenders and long-term unemployed by buying empty or sub-standard properties and then training and employing ex-offenders in all aspects of repair, refurbishment and restoration.  The properties are then sold, with any profits being reinvested into helping more people get into work.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Big Energy Idea all the details can be found here www.ignitesocialenterprise.com

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