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Awards for Social Enterprise innovation create buzz in Manchester

The University of Manchester Innovation Group (UMI3 Ltd) is pleased to announce the Social Enterprise Competition 2013 has resulted in 19 outstanding social venture entrepreneurs receiving awards to further develop their ideas.

The competition was launched in 2012 as a direct result of the University’s selection as one of 56 partner institutions in the HEFCE/UnLtd Higher Education Support Programme and has been delivered by UMI3 Ltd and The Manchester Centre for Enterprise Learning, MEC. The competition was open all staff, students and recent graduates of The University of Manchester and individuals were encouraged to submit ideas for entrepreneurial solutions to social or environmental problems.

The Grand-Prix Final, held on June 28th at The University of Manchester Innovation Centre, UMIC, showcased a wide range of innovative ideas, addressing social or environmental needs, to an audience which included representatives from the University, successful social entrepreneurs and the local business support community. Ideas ranged from virtual reality therapy as a treatment for phantom limb pain to a mobile app assisting healthcare professionals in screening for domestic violence. In addition one Achievement Award of £1000 was awarded to Helen Power, a member of staff from The Manchester Business School, for the development of her social enterprise, Levenshulme Market. Helen received this award due to her exceptional drive and effort in ensuring the progression of the market in a short space of time with a small amount of money.

Paul Monaghan, Director of Up the Ethics, comments: "The calibre of the social enterprises on show was inspiring, as was the University’s ambition to embrace this area and become a beacon university for social enterprise. Staff and students alike can feel real pride in what has been created in such a brief period of time."

UMI3Ltd has awarded over £41,000 worth of funding to applicants from all four faculties of the University. There were two categories to reflect the development stage of the enterprise idea and over the course of the competition we have awarded:

  • 11 Try it Awards: for social entrepreneurs to try out their ideas by finding out if their idea is viable, learning more about what is needed and trying the project on a small scale initially.
  • 8 Do it Awards: to allow an entrepreneurial idea to grow. Do It Awards are for social entrepreneurs who are confident their project will work and have the basic skills to ‘do it’.

Professor James Thompson, Associate Dean External Relations, commented: “The University has a great record in commercialisation and now the emphasis on social enterprise demonstrates further the innovation within the institution coupled with our mission to contribute positively to society. The diversity of applicants and awards to this year's competition was outstanding.”

Dr Laura Etchells, UMIP’s Enterprise and Business Development Manager, comments: “The UnLtd programme has enabled us to build on our existing commercialisation operations to find, fund and support social entrepreneurs from across the University. The competition has been very successful and we received over 47 applications from entrepreneurial staff, students and recent alumni, identifying social enterprise ideas which could help solve social and environmental issues.”

Future activity will include securing a range mentoring opportunities for the Award Winners to ensure their enterprises continue to flourish alongside their funding. There are plans to run this competition again next year and the programme team aim to build on the success and interest which has been generated over the past eight months.

Image: Social Enterprise Competition Award winners present at the Grand Prix

(1st row l-r: Magda Sibley, Joanne Tippett, Dongshuo Wang, Joanne Worthington, Nickala Torkington, Jane Placca. 2nd row l-r: Sophie Dawes, Amy Win, Nigel Jay, Erinma Ochu, Kirsten Windfuhr. 3rd row l-r: Haider Khokhar, Helen Power, Rick Watson, James Thompson, Paul Monaghan)

Image: Helen Power with her Achievement Award (l-r: tony Walker, Helen Power, Nickala Torkington, James Thompson)

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