Long-running Edinburgh incubator opens shop in Glasgow

Glasgow has inched closer to its vision of becoming Scotland’s ‘social enterprise capital’, with the expansion this week of a long-running incubator outside of its Edinburgh base.

Applications opened earlier this week for Good Ideas Glasgow, following two introductory workshops in April and June. There are 12 places on the six-month incubator, with additional spots on the two-day workshop that kicks off the programme in September.

Good Ideas is an initiative of The Melting Pot, which bills itself Scotland's Centre for Social Innovation and supports people to develop enterprises, charities and campaigns. Since its creation in 2012, Good Ideas has incubated 93 ventures, of which 46 are still operating.

The Glasgow offshoot will be based at Glasgow Caledonian University, and is part of the Erasmus-funded, three-year Social Innovation Knowledge Exchange programme. Good Ideas in both Glasgow and Edinburgh also gets funding from the Scottish government.

Claire Carpenter, CEO and founder of The Melting Pot, said demand for the programme was growing, and having attracted Glasgow-based social innovators in recent years, creating a Good Ideas base in Scotland’s largest city was “an obvious next step”. 

The city hosts one in eight Scottish social enterprises, according to Glasgow's first Social Enterprise Strategy – published last autumn by the city council and the Glasgow Social Enterprise Network – and which aspires to make it the country’s leading city for social enterprise. It currently has more than 700 social enterprises, generating almost £800m annually.

While Edinburgh is a step ahead – the city published its third social enterprise strategy this year, claims to have the largest social enterprise network in the country, and hosted the Social Enterprise World Forum in 2018 – the Glasgow strategy sets out hopes for the sector to “significantly increase its reach, scope and potential” over the coming decade.

Mark Anderson, director of the university’s Europe office (and also a board member at The Melting Pot), said the expansion was “significant for Scotland's social innovation ecosystem”. 

Universities are beginning to take on an active role in driving social change

He added: “Universities are beginning to take on an active role in driving social change, recognising that social innovation must be at the heart of their knowledge strategy.” The partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University – which will provide research and expertise – is confirmed until 2021, and covers two cycles of the incubator. 

Among Good Ideas’ Edinburgh alumni is Invisible Cities, which trains those who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides; developed in 2016, it now operates in four UK cities. Founder Zakia Moulaoui (pictured above) – who was recognised in the 2018 NatWest WISE100 as a leading woman in social enterprise – says the incubator gave her access “to a network of people who aligned with my mission.” She added: “It brought me structure and the practical support I needed to make my idea a reality.”

  • This article was amended on 19 July 2019 to remove an incorrect figure on the number of social enterprises in Edinburgh.

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