Category Archives: SME Support

Think Enterprise!

A new magazine, Think Enterprise, from the IOEE.

‘The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs has been over 15 years in the making and exists to make sure that all those involved in enterprise are able to access the support they need, when they need it’.

Whether your interest lies in tracking SFEDI Centres of Excellence or in developing apprenticeships and wider learning in business, then Think Enterprise has something of interest for you.

Be sure to check out pages 16 & 17, with their 2016 Enterprise Awards almost upon us, if only to read of the developmental success of others can in itself an inspiring and confidence building thing as you grow your own business, whatever sector you are in.

You can find the IOEE on-line here.

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Calling all Nottingham City Post-grads, are you ‘Social Business’ minded?



Sharing knowledge, developing a good idea and planning ahead?

If you are on a post-graduate course in Nottingham, in any discipline, and  interested in starting your own business, then the Social Business Programme represents a great opportunity to develop your idea, share opportunities and to learn about the social business start-up sector.

The Building Enterprise Project is managed by Community Partnerships at the University of Nottingham. Led by Roger Moors, CEO of SEEM and Jeanne Booth FRSA, founder of The Good Work Guide.

From February to April 2015 the programme of events and conferences represent a great opportunity to develop your ideas in concert with a team Social Business specialists.

You can also meet us at a special postgraduate meeting of First Tuesday, Nottingham’s network for social businesses, on February 3rd, 2015. Social Business and social impact measures are part of the debate.

Places are free, but numbers are limited.

Key Programme Events:

3rd February, 2015First Tuesday, a Post-grad special event. Inspiration for the entrepreneur and a free drink for the first fifty people through the door! You can book here…

24th February, 2015  – What is good for business? Four different speakers offering you insights into key aspects of Social Business development. A Question and Answer Session will follow this, the first of four sessions in the programme.

There is more to come in March and April.

To see the full project programme visit  internetIconMini

Project Sponsors:

Community Partnerships  :   The University of Nottingham  :   SEEM  :  RSA East Midlands  :   European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) :

Ethical business with a social dimension...
Ethical business with a social dimension…

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Don’t forget Good Deals 2014

Registration for the Good Deals conference taking place on the 24-25th of November 2014 at 30 Euston Square London will close on Wednesday the 19th of November.

Our partners Matter&Co are once again organising the UK’s biggest gathering of social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, corporates and social investors.

Keynote speakers include Jacqueline Novogratz, Vince Cable, Safia Minney and Liam Black. Please visit to book your ticket online and for programme and venue details.

As a partner to the event we are delighted to offer all of our members a 25% discount ticket to the conference using the promo code SEEM14.

If you can’t wait, give a member of the team a call on 02085338892.

We are really excited about this year’s event and we will be there in full force. We hope to see you there too.

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Women, navigating the digital divide…

Zeros and Ones

A free panel debate:   Friday 14th November, 2014 – 3.00 to 4.30pm, followed by an informal networking event at the Mezz Bar and Lounge at Broadway.

The event promises some great insights and conversations exploring if, and how girls and women are moving forward in the digital creative industries, with thoughts and opinions on overcoming potential barriers as a women starting out in the digital industries.

The event will be energised by a distinguished panel. Keynote speaker, Helen Darlington founded creative agency INK Digital . A Finalist for 2014 Digital Entrepreneur of the year; and winner of 2013 Female digital entrepreneur; Helen will be joined on the panel by Joy Francis Executive Director of Words of Colour Productions, and co-founder of Digital Women UK, Jo Welsh, Diversity and Inclusion manager at Creative Skillset, Annie Hayley Founder and Director of Nottingham based App development company Multipie, and Artist and Curator Candice Jacobs.

You can see the booking information for this free event on the Broadway calendar pages here.

You can also visit the pages of the Projector Project too. Projector is Broadway’s Business support Programme for the creative and digital content industries, ‘…offering 1-2-1 business advice, business sessions and workshops and residency opportunities; the programme is funded by ERDF therefore participants do not have to pay for any of the business support provided’.

Friday 14th, 2014 – a diary date for all female creatives in Nottingham?

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Ethical business with a social dimension…
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Are you getting enough finance?

Business growth in our region…

Access to finance to support Growth

The Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East Midlands and South East Midlands are conducting a survey of businesses in our area to find out whether businesses are able to get access to finance to support their growth.

This could of course include social finance for all socially impacting businesses.

They would like to know about business’ experiences if they have sought funding recently or if they plan to seek funding for future investment projects. They would also like to know if they have any barriers to growth.

By completing the survey below, businesses will help the Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East Midlands and South East Midlands to decide how to use their funds to help small and medium-sized enterprises.

Your say!

You can find the on-line survey here.



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Ethical business with a social dimension…
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Food Freedom on the radio…

Nottingham based Food Freedom, a new social business created by Nicky Gray and supported by Roger Moors of SEEM managed to secure national coverage this week on BBC Radio 4.

Developed as a consultancy and training company to advise and inform food businesses about allergies, Nicky spoke about the impending legislation that all restaurants, indeed all food outlets will be subject to come mid December this year. ‘You and Yours’, one of the stations prime time programmes featured Nicky and a number of restauranteurs talking about the need to comply with the new laws or face prosecution.

Nicky who has a wealth of knowledge in this arena decided to establish her business last year to both safeguard people who suffer with food allergies and intolerances but also to assist food outlets, many of whom are unaware of the new law and their obligations. Food Freedom was one of a number of businesses supported by SEEM under the Cabinet Office Social Incubator North programme. Roger said…

‘I’m delighted that Nicky has managed to get this level of publicity and awareness on national radio. The impact of her work is enormous and I’m really pleased that the support and finance we provided has enabled her to grow and develop her business so successfully in such a short period of time’.

internetIconMini  To understand more about the work of Food Freedom follow this link to

internetIconMini  To hear Nicky’s eight minutes of fame follow the link below

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Ethical business with a social dimension…
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CleanTech Connections



We were pleased to cross the City and to be invited to the latest CleanTech Centre lunch event, on Thursday 21st October, 2014. A great opportunity to network and hear key speakers in an informal, professional setting.

Our Roger Moors was delivering the keynote presentation to the assembled guests and he was welcomed to the event by Bob Pynegar of Inntropy Limited, who owns the Centre.

Inntropy was set up in 2011 by Bob Pynegar and Nick Gostick. They saw that a building in West Nottingham had the potential to be an incubator for entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs specialising in clean technologies. This building is now known as The Nottingham Clean Tech Centre (NCTC).

Bob wrapped his introduction to delegates with an illustration of how the CleanTech Centre offers its resident businesses a professional, supportive atmosphere to work in, with the advantage of having spaces available to meet client s and suppliers, as well as being able to take advantage of the Inntropy ‘entrepreneurship offer’ – mentoring, guidance , support and training.

Completing his delivery to the audience with a stress upon the growing importance of the Social Business sector, whether as a source of development funding, the melding of company philosophies with consumer expectations or the growth of the ‘triple bottom line’ business. ‘Social outcome will be even more important for the SME sector in the future...’ said Bob.

Roger Moors of SEEM then took centre stage. Roger began by offering the assembled business audience a range of definitions about the context of charities in business, social enterprises, and now with the emergence of the social finance sector, the ever growing importance of companies with distinct and clear social aims, yet who can still deliver external dividends as part of their enterprise processes.

Roger used a few simple diagrams to make his point. The ‘blended social business’, with solid social aims, clear business strategies and distinct profits would look something like this, he argued…

blendedbusinessgraphicAchieving the blended balance…

Roger emphasised the point that there were 90,000 Social Enterprises in the UK, with only some 10% actually delivering a sustainable business model that was not reliant on loans or charitable grants.

An opportunity for the social business, with strong profits, to deliver social outcome in a sustainable way.

This was not seen as a failure of the sector, but an opportunity for mainstream businesses to make bolder declarations of their social concern and delivery and use this effect to capitalise expansion, new products an services, the whole while supporting their communities of interest.

Roger then launched to the audience the new £1 million Nottingham Social Impact fund, which is designed to fit the investment profile outlined in the narrative above.

With loans available from£5,000 to £150,000, Roger saw the initial tranches of support in the £50,000 sector or below, with an ideal period of three years for repayment. The money will be put out at 6.5% interest.

The Fund is a collaborative effort between Nottingham City Council and The Key Fund.

Roger, in conclusion, stressed the importance of the Public Sector Social Value Act of January 2013. Committing all Local Authorities to take social impact into account when making strategic procurement decisions with their public money.

Roger receive applause from the audience and the thanks of Bob Pinegar for his clarity and conciseness.

I f you are interested as a start-up in the office provision and business support that the CleanTech Centre can offer, then please use the contact details below.

We know that you will be warmly welcomed.

Nick Gostick –

Linda Slack –

0115 822 1865

Inntropy Limited, Nottingham CleanTech Centre,
63-67 St Peter’s Street, Nottingham, UK, NG7 3EN

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New EU intermediary funds for SME’s announced

The EU made two major announcements this week, about programmes across Europe. Designed to sustain SME’s, who lack the collateral to enjoy secured lending. The announcements represent a new cohort of funds to broaden the business base of the small business sector.

The European Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) will deliver a new 100 million Euro fund. The Fund will be to bring new ideas to market. The Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) Fund will be available in 2015 and 2016.

Consortia of three to five members will be free to bid for the funds at any time. ‘EU officials expect grants to be between €1m and €2m’.

The executive also signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund. The Commission said ‘…this would open up €25 billion of potential finance for SMEs over the next seven years’.

The EIF provides risk finance to SME’s across Europe. It will give €1.3billion for SME financing, under the EU Competitiveness of Enterprises Programme.

The EIF will give that money to financial intermediaries such as banks or funds, who will in turn make it available to SMEs.

The EIF will appoint the intermediaries. There will be a call for expressions of interest and a due diligence process.

The Commission estimates that up to 330,000 SMEs will receive loans backed by the guarantees. Total lending will hit €21 billion. An average guaranteed loan will be €65,000 per firm.

internetIconMini  See the original EU Fast Track to Innovation Press Release here…

internetIconMini  See the web pages of COSME, better finance for business here…

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Cornershop revisionism – philosophy refreshed…

The Pop-up Shop has been getting a lot of press recently.

Did it ever go away? Is a revision to enterprise philosophy under way? Asset management, both in the public and private sector is in flux. With revisionist thinking on collaboration and about public space utility and development?

We think there is this paradigm shift, which can energise the social finance market. It will temper developments in the public space. This affects political mission, private capital movements and community outcome.

We offer as evidence the three reports/ideas formulated by a diversity of organisations below. As crisp in their thinking as they are diverse. They are telling onlookers to change, at an opportune moment for our sector.

The Pop-Up Shop:

See more modern retailing here...
Hogarth imagines the pop-up shop?

Reading mainstream articles about this newly energised movement, we enjoyed revisiting the web site of . We see it as a metaphor for a new retailing in the UK.

We are a world away from the ’empty space’ temporary retail proposition of old.

Gone are bare spaces, filled with less than high quality merchandise on a seasonal pressure sale basis. In comes a range of artisan producers, innovatory publishers and craft manufacturers. All intent on capitalising on short term, premium retail spaces. It should stir the imagination?

The Appear Here concept achieves a number of aims for the burgeoning retailer. Firstly, you can use the site to scope spaces across the UK, and will be able to view more in the future. You can also see, upfront, the cost of occupying the space over your chosen period.

If you are a community enterprise just at the planning stage this is important. Not being retail property specialists, but with a passion for your community manufactury, then knowing what the costs are likely to be, with support of the Appear Here team, could be a deal clincher for your project.

We haven’t fully explored the booking conditions from the site yet, and cannot see other start-up costs like majority deposits that may be needed, but overall the presentation makes a telling offer for the 21st Century.   internetIconMini  Check out Appear Here today.

We also liked and applaud The Plunkett Fondation’s attempts to vivify the community shop. They have recently published a new report Community Shops 2014 – A Better Form of Business.

Better shops, better communities...
Better shops, better communities…

The Foundation’s main focus is on rural development. As with the initiative above, retailing and the opportunities it offers, are good in inner-city areas too.

These include the principles of stock management, employment, volunteering, managing cash-flow and more.

The mixture of skills and commitment adds human capital, not only to the shop, but also the community if done right.

Icon for Adobe PDF  Download a copy of the Plunkett Foundation Report for 2014 here…

What can be gleaned for the Plunkett report is how a local shop can be a driver for community cohesion, a broad, beneficial identity and, because it is community owned, a wider sense of community ownership of place is also generated. Who cannot be proud of the area the shop they own exists within?

 Socially Productive Places:

Yesterday The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA), in collaboration with British Land, published a new report about an emergent model to add value to public spaces by utilising a new admixture of co-operation and skills shared amongst local authority planners, developers, community groups and politicians.

New ideas in regeneration...
New ideas in regeneration…

We were excited by the report, which contains recommendations for how private developers and public sector players can innovate and collaborate in new ways to get the maximum value from public spaces, whilst at the same time adding value to built assets.

At the heart of the report is a lack of fear about profitability. But with a sense of urgency and innovation about how the public domain renovates and rebuilds from now on.

The report tells us what should not done. As well as illustrating the new skills needed by key players in the development sector. It is a cogent and telling argument.

Icon for Adobe PDF   Download a full copy of the research paper here…

It’s a timely report and you can read a short review, and find links to the conference that inspired the research, on conversationsEAST, the East of England Fellowship journal supporting the work of the RSA.

Mass Collaboration:

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), is a centre-left think tank. It recently published a paper called Mass Collaboration.

Within the context of this brief article, the IPPR piece binds together some of the ideas expressed above. Taking a meta-narrative view of policy and practice.

To see how to achieve change in the public arena. Moving to mass engagement within the socio-political structures that frame our society.

Working together in a new way...
Working together in a new way…

The paper, authored by Matthew Pike, a serial social entrepreneur. He has connections to Unltd, Big Society Capital and the Social Investment Business.

Matthew is the founder of, a free reporting system for public services. Always worth checking out!

Icon for Adobe PDF   Download a copy of the report here…

The Pike thesis for change, that will will channel mass collaboration, is based upon five key principles. We give them below.

  1. “Invest in shared institutions that build social capital and engender supportive working relationships across sectors and hierarchies, such as teams of supporters around individuals, community anchor organisations, children’s centres, extended schools and more. Above all, invest in new ‘backbone organisations’ that can mobilise and organise whole-system change across localities.
  2. Understand what help people need in order to help themselves and discover the existing strengths within people and communities, through an immersive programme of listening and learning.
  3. Harness the new power of ‘big social data’ to turn public funding into a real-time process of action learning, understanding as much as possible about activities, outcomes and costs in an area to help design new systems that give people the help they need in a much smarter way.
  4. Provide funding, investment and support to test, grow and scale up what works better in a local context and cut what isn’t needed or is less effective.
  5. Work progressively to use new insight and evidence to help redesign the wider systems, rules and regulations that hamper local achievement”.

The five could apply to the social finance sector, and the players operating in it. Innovation, change, consultation, system and process review, engagement with communities of interest. All are all defining characteristics of the Social Finance sector.

The thematic glue to them, for us in the sector, is money. It’s accrual, its management and its dispensation. The Pikeian motif can layer upon the RSA paper, as well as across the innovatory approach of The Plunkett Foundation. In essence, we should talk to each other and ‘do things different’.

A heady time to be in the vanguard of a new movement?

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