Quick menu:

  • Help and support

Social Incubator Fund

Supporting social incubators to provide investment and intensive support to early stage social ventures

Funding size:
£50,000 - £1.5 million
Application deadline:
This programme is now closed for applications

What's it all about?

2 women painting

The Social Incubator Fund is being delivered by Big Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society (OCS). It aims to help drive a robust pipeline of start-up social ventures into the social investment market, by increasing focus on incubation support, and attracting new incubators into the market.

Round One of the Social Incubator Fund launched in July 2012, and was aimed at established social incubators. Four organisations received funding totalling almost £5 million. In this second round we expect to fund between two and five social incubators based and operating primarily in England.

What are we looking for?

The Social Incubator Fund will increase the finance available at early stages of enterprise where the financial return is too low and/or the financial risk is too high for Big Society Capital and other investors. We expect social incubators to offer a portfolio of intensive support over a time-limited period and to each have the capacity to help at least 50 social ventures over the life of the project.

We want to fund projects that bring about the following programme outcomes:

  • Improved quality and quantity of early stage social ventures going on to seek financial support from the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund and/or social investment intermediaries;
  • Improved signposting between social investment intermediaries for early stage social ventures, particularly to enable them to secure further investment if appropriate; and
  • Increased numbers of social investors making investments into early stage social ventures.

Applicants to Round Two of the Social Incubator Fund may want to consider working in partnerships of two or more organisations. These partnerships could include established social incubators, universities and private sector organisations. Although applicants to this round are not required to have previous experience of providing support and investment to early stage social ventures, a track record of delivering this work might be an advantage.

Incubators do not need to restrict themselves to accelerating not-for-profit social ventures; incubators that support profit distributing organisations who deliver social impact are also welcome to apply.

We are particularly interested in hearing about innovative projects that target specific geographic regions or policy themes where there is less established support for early stage social ventures, or that are not being targeted by the projects funded in Round One.

You can find out more about the types of projects we are interested in funding through this programme by looking at the case studies of the projects funded through Round One of the programme. We are able to fund many different types of social incubators and are particularly keen to see alternative models to those funded under Round One.

Who can apply?

This is not funding for frontline social ventures. To be eligible to apply to Round Two of the Social Incubator Fund you must meet our definition of a social incubator on page 3 of the application form and be able to offer all four of the following services:

  • provision of non-grant seed capital
  • business model development
  • access to expertise
  • access to space.

You must also have attended the briefing event in London on 20 May 2013. We will only accept applications from organisations who did not attend the briefing event in exceptional circumstances.

Shortlisted applicants must be able to attend an interview in London on 22 October 2013.

What can you apply for?

The Social Incubator Fund provides grants to social incubators, a portion of which will form an investment book which must be invested in social ventures using non-grant financial structures.

There are two elements to the funding available, and we expect applicants to apply for both:

  • you can ask for between £50,000 and £250,000 per year towards your operating costs, for up to four years
  • you can ask for between £100,000 and £750,000 per year to contribute to your investment book, to be invested within two years

The maximum total amount you can apply for from the Social Incubator Fund is £1.5 million.

Although you may operate UK-wide, the fund will only pay for the support you provide to social ventures that are based and operating primarily in England.