New funding for community firms

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Budding community entrepreneurs have got a £2 million boost to turn their ideas in to commercial reality, following the launch of Social Incubator North in Sheffield.

The initiative is targeting new business ideas that will have a positive social or environmental impact, such as offering employment or training to vulnerable members of the community or delivering a service with ‘Green’ credentials.

More than 200 entrepreneurs are expected to apply for funding and support and as many as 60 new, investment–ready businesses could be set up as a result.

Each will receive an investment of up to £25,000, 80 hours of one-to-one business support, peer learning and networking and access to business premises.

Social Incubator North is co-funded by the Government and is being led by the Sheffield-based Key Fund in collaboration with four regional Social Enterprise Partnerships and Locality, the leading nationwide network for community-led organisations.

Ann Oldroyd, chief executive of Key Fund, said: “It’s an incredibly exciting concept because it goes to a grassroots level.

“It really opens up the market to help ignite local economies across the north. Unlike other funds, it’s geared up to deliver that practical, hands-on support to take ideas step-by-step into reality, so these new businesses have solid foundations from which to fly.”

The new initiative also won praise from award winning entrepreneur Jonathan Straight, founder of Yorkshire-based Straight Recycling Systems, who encouraged budding social entrepreneurs to come forward.To find out more or apply for backing visit: