Get ready to revolutionize your social enterprise by harnessing the power of AI in a webinar organised by Impact Hub Inverness. For more information and to register click below.

On 27 June CivTech will unveil innovative tech solutions to real-world problems at CivTech 8 Demo Day, and will also launch the biggest CivTech Accelerator to date, CivTech 9.

The in-person event which takes place at the Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh, is an exclusive opportunity to hear about the latest developments and opportunities from the CivTech Accelerator. Attendees of CivTech Demo Day have the opportunity to attend the morning or afternoon session, or both sessions.

At Demo Day you have the chance to hear from the CivTech 8 companies who have created Challenge solutions for: the most vulnerable people facing energy crisis, Scot Gov Agriculture and Rural Economy systems, and protection of Scotland’s marine and land wildlife and environments as part of Innovate for Nature which launched during COP27 last year as part of our ‘Innovate for’ series.

Artificial intelligence, design, biodiversity tech, and photogrammetry all feature across solutions in CivTech 8. Demo Day gives the companies the opportunity to pitch their products to key stakeholders in the public, private and third sectors, and demonstrate their solutions’ potential for wider-scale use and commercialisation.

Not only will there be the opportunity to see the work developed by the CivTech 8 companies, but also hear updates from some of the previous Challenge Sponsors and Companies as well as having the chance to network with key decision makers from across Scotland.

The afternoon session will announce the first Challenges from CivTech 9, the biggest CivTech Accelerator yet with £10million funding from the Scottish Government this year.

Companies can join us to find out about how the CivTech Innovation Flow is creating tech solutions with a positive and practical impact on Scotland, and the lives of people across the country. You will also hear from previous CivTech companies on how their experience in the Accelerator has propelled them to further funding and successes, and what the programme could offer for you.

If you are working in the public or third sector in Scotland and want to know more about how you can bring a brand new Challenge to the CivTech programme, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet with Challenge Sponsors face-to-face and find out how the Accelerator has transformed their services through bespoke tech-for-good solutions.

With digital increasingly driving transformative new national and international opportunities for the creative and heritage sectors across the Highlands and Islands, Shared Perspectives offers a thought-provoking one day conference exploring what this could mean for your business, project, organisation or network.

Delivered by XpoNorth Digital, this free event will take a practical look at how digital technologies are unlocking ambitious new areas for regional businesses. It will also offer a platform for creative and heritage networks to meet with other sectors, make new connections and discuss collaborative approaches to shared challenges and opportunities.

Hear from a range of inspirational speakers and take part in workshop sessions on how digital storytelling can drive key parts of your business, regional impact and opportunities around the use of AI, crowdsourcing for the heritage sector and how creativity can power rural economies. There will also be an opportunity to meet 1-2-1 with XpoNorth Digital’s specialist advisors, HIE’s Creative Industries team and members of local development networks.

One-to-one sessions are now available to book on the day with our XpoNorth Digital Sector Specialists:

-Jessica Fox, Screen and Broadcast Specialist Advisor

-Nicola Henderson, Heritage Specialist Advisor

-Tim Wright, Digital Specialist Advisor

Email info@xponorth.co.uk to secure your space!

Produced as a hybrid event, attendees can connect with the programme in-person or online.

Social enterprises are considered to be ethical and responsible businesses, but how do you develop a social enterprise that is committed to inclusive governance, diversity, and equality?

Join the next Fine Tune Your Social Enterprise event to hear from experts in these areas and get inspired by social entrepreneurs who are building their businesses with fairness, inclusion, and diversity at their core.

Sessions on the day will be run by professionals who are leading the way in inclusivity and best practice. They’ll be exploring essential topics for social enterprises including Board Diversity and Ethical Supply Chains.

Agenda

9.30am Arrival

10-10.30am Intros

10.30-11.20am Session 1 – Board Diversity Lindsay Wake (SIS)

11.20-11.30am Comfort break

11.30am-12.20pm Session 2 – Ethical Supply Chain Hannah Dent (SES)

12.20-2pm Networking LUNCH

2-3.30pm Panel

• Zara Todd

• Kalpana Ratnam-Roarty

3.30-3.45pm Final remarks

4.00pm Close

Meet the speakers
Lindsay Wake

Lindsay has been Head of Impact at Social Investment Scotland since October 2019. She worked within and alongside businesses, social enterprises, community organisations and charities across Scotland, and London and the South-East for over 20 years.

Hannah Dent

Hannah is Director of Services at Social Enterprise Scotland, the national membership body for Social Enterprise. She is responsible for operational oversight, partnership development, strategic leadership, and a range of corporate support functions.

Zara Todd

Zara Todd is a disability activist, researcher, trainer and facilitator. She is setting up a social enterprise to support disabled people’s leadership in the not-for-profit sector after carrying out a Churchill Fellowship looking at inclusion, disability and leadership, and co-authoring ACEVO‘s hidden leaders report on disability leadership in the third sector.

Kalpana Ratnam-Roarty

Kalpana is the CEO of User and Carer Involvement (UCI) and a Director of Easy Read For CIC, based in Dumfries and Galloway. Over 50% of UCI’s board comprises people with learning disabilities, and Kalpana saved the charity from closure in 2019.

Places are allocated on a first come first served basis so make sure you register early to secure your place.

This event is free to attend with lunch provided.

It promises to be an engaging and reflective day.

A unique opportunity to showcase your social enterprise/social business initiative.

On May 18th-19th Glasgow Caledonian University will be hosting a Social Innovation Fair as part of its annual Research Celebration. At the Fair Changemakers and Pioneers will be brought together from across Scotland and beyond to help strengthen ties between organisations and to encourage lively interaction and knowledge exchange.  There will also be related talks and workshops highlighting especially how universities and social innovators can work together.

This opportunity is absolutely free!

The Fair will take place at Glasgow Caledonian’s Alex Ferguson Library between 9.30 and 5.30 on Thursday 18th May and 9.30-12.30 on Friday 19th May.

Interface will be exhibiting at this event so come along to our stand and meet Lorraine Thomson and Mari Findlay.

In order to book a place at the event, register at the link below:

Local communities are leading the change to help shape an economy that works for people, places and planet, and Moray is no exception.

With focus and urgency, communities are showing that it is possible to take practical action, to continue to shift to new ways of doing things, and ensuring, that along that way, it is truly, a just transition.

As Moray’s Local Action Group develops a new vision for community led local development, the time is also right, for communities to come together to shape this vision and how it is rolled out in Moray.

Join tsiMoray, with a panel of changemakers at Join the Dots this year, to:

Deepen our learning and take inspiration from others so that we can continue to take practical action where we live and drive forward this place-based change.

Explore how community led local development can accelerate the move to a Wellbeing Economy through a just transition.

Inform and inspire a Community Led Vision for Moray.

Background

Since 1999, Tweeddale Youth Action (TYA) has operated as a youth-led organisation that gives young people a safe space to congregate, an alternative to bus stops and street corners. They operate two youth clubs in Peebles and Innerleithen and through the provision of free opportunities for all, they support young people in accessing advice, developing skills, confidence, and a sense of belonging and responsibility within the community.

Challenge

Five years ago, TYA received LEADER (a European Union initiative to support rural development projects in rural, coastal and urban areas of EU member countries) funding that allowed them to invest in a metal workshop, a bike repair shop and a fully kitted out commercial kitchen.  Off the back of this, TYA has grown several micro enterprises within the youth club – Bike Punks and Food Punks.

Bike Punks is based around their in-house metal workshop.  They started repairing unwanted bikes and giving them back out to the community, teaching young people metalwork as well as bike repair skills.

Food Punks is based around their commercial kitchen and delivers outside catering for events, weddings etc. As well as the kitchen, they have a van and outside cookery equipment and teach young people the skills involved in outside catering.

Pre-Covid, both endeavours had healthy income-generating capacity. With Bike Punks, TYA had a service level agreement with local authorities to support young people in learning metalwork skills. In addition. they had an agreement with the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership to provide an e-bike library locally as well as an e-cargo bike delivery service. Similarly, Food Punks saw a steady demand for events catering. 

This pipeline of business disappeared with the onset of Covid and TYA found themselves at a crossroad. Both Bike Punks and Food Punks had a strong brand to build upon and TYA had ideas they were interested in taking forward to diversify their offering.

Tweeddale Youth Action needed help with developing a business strategy to see where the opportunities lay and which of their ideas should be taken forward.

Solution

After being referred by South of Scotland Enterprise, Shelley Breckenridge, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, was able to connect Dave Hodson, Locality Manager at TYA, to Ed Green, Business Development Manager at the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, who was looking for consultancy projects for his students.  The TYA project received the support of two separate groups of University of Glasgow students.

The project brief for the students was:

Initially, as part of their consultancy projects, a group of full-time MBA Students at Glasgow University researched and prioritised these ideas, considering in-house resource to develop a strategy and a way forward. As a follow up, a group of undergraduate students on the ‘Entrepreneurial Ventures: Management & Growth’ course (which works primarily with social enterprises and charities) were given the same brief to deliver new viewpoints for the company.

Benefits

This process of consultation meant that the time commitment needed from TYA was reduced to a minimum whilst receiving insightful and helpful suggestions from the students.  Equally helpful for the Locality Manager was being given the luxury of taking time out from the usual spinning of plates to think and reflect on where the organisation was and where they needed to get to.  Creating the time to articulate the organisation’s needs, and having this reflected back in reports that they could share and act on, was invaluable to them.

Background

Floco (formerly Lilypads Group Ltd) is a mission driven company that manufactures and sells reusable sanitary pads and provides menstrual health education. Founder and CEO of Floco, Alison Wood, strives to end period poverty and stigma by providing affordable reusable sanitary pads and education to communities around the world.  They currently work in Malaysia and Kenya, with preparations to start working in Cambodia and Nigeria.

There is a growing market opportunity for natural, sustainable, durable, and reusable sanitary products in the UK and current reusable sanitary pads are limited by several factors including leakage, lack of absorbency and the very high price point.

The company aim to develop a product suitable for the UK market, with the long-term aim that profit from this product can subsidise the cost of their international pads, ensuring they are affordable to all.

Challenge

During the product development phase, Floco trialled their product and learnt that the consumers found it more comfortable than their conventional sanitary pad. However, for these women the pad’s thickness was imperative; ideally the women could wear the pad all day and it be no thicker than standard disposable pads. With the current materials available on the market this looked unlikely and therefore the pad would need to be much thicker, limiting its attractiveness.

The company were also keen to look at ways to make reusable pads more affordable and environmentally friendly.  They recognise that absorbent textiles are key to this development along with being able to ensure the current attributes of pads are maintained. 

Floco approached Interface in the hope of undertaking a feasibility study with a research team to establish initial options and the key design principles for absorbent textiles that would offer the following attributes:

Solution

Following a search of Interface’s academic partners, Dr Danmei Sun, Associate Professor of Textile Materials & Engineering at Heriot-Watt University was introduced to Floco and undertook the initial feasibility project funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher. The results identified two materials – a quick drying fabric that was soft and felt like underwear and an absorbent middle layer than holds the moisture so even when pressure is applied it does not leak. The constructed pad is discrete, easy to use and wash and fits the user needs perfectly.

Benefits

Floco tested the product and identified a manufacturer. The pad was launched to the market in July 2020 by Crowdfunder with sales in the UK subsidising Floco’s work internationally to ensure no one is limited by their period.

Follow-On Activity

Following this initial project Floco returned to Interface to undertake a consultancy project around Strategy and Business growth. Working with a student at the University of Stirling, Floco have explored: the potential of targeting the pads at a specific demographic, behavioural attitudes towards buying sustainable products, analysing the sustainability of the whole business, not just the product, and optimising supply chain opportunities.

To learn more about Floco, please visit their website.

Background

NjordFrey, established and registered in Rwanda in 2018 as a social enterprise, offers advanced farming solutions to developing farmers in Rwanda, so that they may decrease levels of malnutrition within their immediate community while experiencing stable economic growth.

This is done by offering these farmers access to sustainably designed aquaponic starter kits, seasonal input product lines, e.g. seeds & fingerlings, and operational training to allow them to become independent, all as part of an outgrower credit model.

NjordFrey are in the process of implementing their flagship farm in 2020 to showcase its solution and secure further collaborators and investment for large scale-up.

Challenge

NjordFrey were looking for an academic partner to apply for the Innovate Catalyst Round 8 Agri-tech competition. This Department for International Development (DFID) funded competition was for projects on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries. The aim of this competition was to increase the pace of development and scale of uptake of agricultural and food systems innovation by farmers and food systems actors (such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors, or wholesalers) in Africa.

NjordFrey was specifically looking for support from an academic partner in any of the following areas:

Solution

NjordFrey was referred to Interface by the Knowledge Transfer Network to find an academic collaborative partner.

After scoping up the project and sending it on to various universities within Scotland, Ruth Oliver from Interface matched NjordFrey with four academic institutes for further discussions. After which, NjordFrey partnered with the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) for funding applications. The partners were successful in receiving an Innovate UK grant of almost £300k to collaborate on an 18-month project. This project is now underway and both organisations are working together to develop a Digital Health Monitoring System (using non-invasive sensors to provide a real time status of the farm health to improve yield and reduce errors) to improve food security in the developing world.

Benefits

Within Rwanda, 1.8 million smallholder farmers, looking to provide a nutritious protein and plant-based diet while increasing yields to support economic growth, are limited by; high capital costs for high yield solutions, promotion of basic farming techniques by competitors, lack of routes to market, and falling into a dependency trap with other solutions.

NjordFrey (NF), Rwanda, offers these farmers access to sustainably designed aquaponic starter farms via an outgrower credit model, seasonal input product lines e.g. seeds and fingerlings, operational training to allow them to become independent, and facilitates routes to markets.

In collaboration with the University of West of Scotland (UWS), this project is looking at developing a Digital Health Monitoring System that has a high-tech back end (sensors and machine learning) with a low-tech font-end approach (SMS/voice call) to feedback actions to farmers in an inclusive manner, providing NjordFrey with a data-driven product to capture market share in Rwanda.

Overall, our solution will remove high upfront costs and technical barriers, provide increased yields of organic produce, increase calorie intake by 28% and income 10-fold for up to 100,000 farmers and their 240,000 family members, via 2,000+ farms within 10 years. Tackling malnutrition (affecting 34% of children under 5) while improving livelihoods via this model is an innovate first within Rwanda and targets many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
 

Business benefits

Follow-on Activity

NjordFrey has since gone on to have the following work-based learning projects with students at both the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow, facilitated through Interface:

MSc Management Science (Strathclyde) – Supply chain and Market development – The business required additional data on agriculture markets / supply chains within Rwanda and the opportunities and challenges as a result.

MSc Management Science (Strathclyde) – Business Modelling – NjordFrey required a financial/business model to be developed that would allow them to forecast their 5-year financials and, importantly, run multiple scenarios/simulations within the context of a developing country in East Africa. Ultimately, the outputs of this project would be used to direct their financial strategy.

MBA Consultancy Week (Glasgow) – Export Strategy development – The MBA group were assigned to look at the projected amounts of fish and veg produce over five years, from 32 farms, and develop and market the business’s export strategy to Europe and the rest of the world from Rwanda.