Spark Social Enterprise | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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Spark Social Enterprise

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Framework Conditions for Innovation

Lead partner

University of Brighton


Start Date


End Date


Project budget

3 085 644

ERDF amount

1 851 385

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    The common challenges tackled by the project are: “relatively low level of social innovation” and “development of social enterprises as SMEs”. Social Enterprises (SEs) are well placed to deliver social innovation in the 2 seas area. A 2012 SBS survey found 67% of UK SEs had introduced a new or significantly improved product or service in the previous 12 months compared to 43% of non-SE SMEs. Yet their dual missions of social purpose and business create complex needs which require specialized solutions in order to make social innovations commercially viable and sustainable.

    Main Achievements

    The cross-border cooperation has been central to the success of the project. It was rooted in the positive and enduring working relationships between partners, setting the tone and an example of how more can be achieved through working together in an innovative and creative way rather than working in ‘silos.

    To select a few particular highlights that we have evidence of particular impact –

    The development of the innovation roadmap. The team developed a bespoke visual framework of the innovation process particular to social enterprises. This model became the foundation for other deliverables and was woven into the fabric of the project.

    Our Strategy and Action plan evolved through research and first-hand experience of delivering support to enable stakeholders, support agencies, policy makers and others in the public sector to focus on 4 key pillars needed in order for social enterprise to flourish. Through numerous events, meetings and 1-2-1 engagement with stakeholders we managed to secure the commitment for the support of our strategy and action plan by 110 individuals – over 50% more than our original plan!

    One of the pillars of our Strategy and Action plan is ‘Connect to Innovate’ and our SEIAN (Social Enterprise Innovation Accelerator Network) helped us to meet this fundamental requirement. Our network undertook both physical meetings and events for members of SEIAN (many of which were cross-border) and also for those that could not attend the events, and to further promote the cross-border conversation we established a ‘virtual’ network online through a LinkedIn group. Our target member ship for this group was 400, but again we surpassed this.

    Our two main programmes were focused on established social enterprises (WP2 – The Accelerator Programme) and new or early stages social enterprises (WP3 – The Start-up Programme). We have had some wonderful feedback from the social enterprises involved in these programmes and our evaluation of the programmes has emphasised how useful the tools, services and support provided by SPARK has been. Hilary one of our cohort on the Accelerator programme said ‘Participating in the Spark project was a game changer for my organisation’ and Atif emphasised how the cross-border participation was helpful – ‘There was so much to gain… especially in meeting up with like-minded individuals, strategizing shared difficulties with our EU colleagues’.



    West Sussex County Council

    Sociale Innovatie Fabriek

    De Punt

    Seinwezen Beheer


    Output name
    URL / Download


    Theme: Support to innovationSocial economy & entrepreneurship
    Type: Strategy/action plan
    Target: Innovation agencies


    Theme: Support to innovationSocial economy & entrepreneurship
    Type: Method/service
    Target: Innovation agencies


    Theme: Support to innovationSocial economy & entrepreneurship
    Type: Network
    Target: Local, regional and national authorities


    Theme: Support to innovationSocial economy & entrepreneurship
    Type: Method/service
    Target: Local, regional and national authorities


    Theme: Support to innovationSocial economy & entrepreneurship
    Type: Method/service
    Target: Innovation agencies