Responsibility

UK’s first energy-focused social investment fund launched

A 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 on 3 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 Wayra Academy 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.

ENDS

Notes to editors

For further information, interview requests and case studies, contact the SEUK press team on 020 3589 4949 / 07968 810716 or nick.temple@socialenterprise.org.uk /fran.gorman@socialenterprise.org.uk or Alan McLaughlin alan.mclaughlin@centrica.com

Ignite overview

Ignite is the UK’s first impact investment fund with a focus on energy. We believe that energy entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in building a better society and we’re here to help them achieve their potential.

We invest people and money into emerging and mature organisations that have a clear vision of how they benefit society. By focussing on energy, we’re driving innovation at every point of the energy chain – from sourcing and generation through to supply, service and saving energy. And by investing in social enterprises we’re making a positive impact on employment, income, housing and local communities.

Thanks to our backing from Centrica, we’re providing funding of £10m over the next 10 years, and will make investments of between £50,000 and £2m.

Wayra overview

Wayra is a Telefónica initiative whose main objective is to promote innovation and the detection of new talents in Latin America and Europe in the field of the Internet and New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). By means of its global project acceleration model, it supports entrepreneurs in their development, providing them with the technological tools, qualified mentors, a cutting-edge work space and the funding necessary to accelerate their growth.

Two years after its launch Wayra has presence in twelve countries (Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Venezuela). It opened its newest Academy in London this year, Wayra UnLtd, in Partnership with the UK Government and Unlimited. Its purpose is to accelerate social Ventures which is a rapidly growing sector contributing greatly to both the UK economy and employment. We’re proud to be working with such remarkable businesses.

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