Deadline looms for applications to Social Enterprise Fund

Mary Youlden
Authored by Mary Youlden
Posted Friday, March 6, 2015 - 11:43am

Time is ticking for South West social ventures to apply to a £600,000 investment and support programme which has been launched by Dartington Trust, Plymouth University and South West Investment Group.

Just days remain for social entrepreneurs to get on to the cutting edge Seedbed programme, which will provide the expertise and finance to help social ventures grow, create sustainable jobs and contribute to the local economy and community.

Last month dozens of potential applicants attended a series of taster events held across the region, where they got to meet the team and find out more about the support on offer.

From all of the applications received by the March 13 deadline, 25 South West social ventures will be recruited and each will benefit from a £8,500 support package as well as access to thousands of pounds in affordable loan finance.

Dirk Rohwedder, Seedbed director and director of Dartington Hall Trust’s School for Social Entrepreneurs, said applications were already being received.

“We’re thrilled with the quality of the social ventures that came to find out more about Seedbed,” he said. “It was great to meet so many people with such a passion for social entrepreneurship and an ambition to grow their enterprise.”

“Although the deadline is looming, we want to remind social ventures that there is still time to get their applications in. The programme is a wonderful opportunity and each social venture will benefit from it in one way or another.”

Seedbed is one of only ten social incubator/accelerator programmes in the UK and the only project of its kind in the South West. Each of the ventures recruited will have social and/or environmental objectives at their core.

Places on the programme are free due to joint investment by the Social Incubator Fund, which is being delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Cabinet Office, and project partners Dartington Hall Trust, Plymouth University and South West Investment Group.

Award winning social entrepreneur Dave Miller has been brought on board to manage the support programme and share his expertise. He is co-founder and former CEO of Bikeworks, a London-based social venture set up to help the homeless and long term employed gain skills and experience through servicing and selling bikes. The concept rapidly evolved into other fields such as bike safety, bike hire and cycling for health.

Dirk said: “Our programme is based on years of experience from the partner organisations and has been developed by successful social entrepreneurs who know and understand what it means to succeed and grow.

“We are excited to have Dave Miller on board. Having grown his London social enterprise Bikeworks into a nationally recognised organisation turning over £2 million, Dave left Bikeworks last year to relocate to the South West and will now support local entrepreneurs to gain the tools, knowledge and investment needed to help them succeed in the long-term.”

The Seedbed programme will take place over 25 days between April and December, during which time social entrepreneurs will learn how to successfully compete for tenders and contracts, develop their products and markets, promote their ventures and access social investment, through a series of workshops, master classes, coaching, business panels and web-based seminars.

This support will be provided by the Dartington Hall Trust and Plymouth University, while South West Investment Group will share its experience in financial management and social finance.

To find out more about Seedbed and to download an application form visit

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