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On 18 June 2019, we hosted a Futureproofing Social Enterprise Event, co-designed with social enterprises to test out the broader relevance of issues that emerged during 1:1 consultations and the sector mapping exercise. The event was attended by 40 social enterprise leaders, staff of social enterprise intermediary organisations and investors, a member of city council, and data and social science researchers.

The event tackled four key issues defined by research collaborators:

1) How can better awareness of the experience of social entrepreneurship generate better support?

Social entrepreneurs are driven by a strong desire to see their idea succeed, and they also carry a large burden of expectation placed on them by their teams, beneficiaries, clients, and funders. How do you launch a business on the side of your existing full-time job and caring responsibilities? How do you attend the investor’s three-day workshop while also looking after your sales, marketing, and operations?

How can entrepreneurs be better supported?

2) How can local authorities work better with social enterprises?

Social Enterprise often depends on exceptional individuals. This includes exceptional commissioners and procurement officers within local authorities who value the social inclusion outcomes that SEs deliver. How can we make SE participation in public-sector markets more mainstream? What does this imply for SE–local authority relationships?

How can Local Authorities work better with Social Enterprises?

3) How can we crack the funding gap in the £5k-100k investment range?

The Scottish social investment landscape has developed over the last 15 years, and social finance is a key part of the funding mix for SEs. But does this growth mean that financial needs of all SEs are being met?

How do we crack the £5k-100k funding gap for social enterprises?

4) ) How can social enterprises benefit from better data?

You may have heard about the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Regional

Deal and the Data Driven Innovation agenda. But what does that actually mean for the Social Enterprise sector? How can better data help your everyday practice?

How can Social Enterprises benefit from better data?

Following a collaborative research design, the project will continue to host events and workshops with the sector to share emerging findings and gain sector feedback.