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Business & Economy

North East BIC announces region’s first social enterprise incubator

The North East BIC has launched Innovate for Good, the region’s first social enterprise incubator, designed to nurture entrepreneurs who want to use business as a force for good.

The incubator facility has been designed to hothouse entrepreneurs at the start of their business journeys who shared an aim to make the world better with their ideas, products, processes and services.

It will be based in the North East BIC’s new Innovation Zone at Sunderland Business Park, providing collaborative working space, practical tools and specialist support.

Innovate for Good has its first participants with 12 businesses moved in and working on projects with the potential to tackle issues such as inequality, poverty, isolation, climate change, ill-health and disability.

The ideas span from dementia support focused on using arts, activities and culture to specialist training to get more disabled and disadvantaged women jobs in IT.

The 12 businesses are as follows:

Active Families NE


Azalea Academy IT

Best Self CIC

Climate Action North

Family Advisory Service

Lighthouse Therapy CIC

My Cloud Coach

Sunderland Community IT

Sunshine Co-op

Tailored Leisure


The overall aim of the incubator is to create a new community of social enterprises that value their social purpose as highly as profits, with profits reinvested or donated to improve people’s lives and the environment.

A recent report by Social Enterprise UK said that there are 100,000 businesses of this nature contributing £60 billion to the UK economy.

Paul McEldon, chief executive of the North East BIC, said: “Social entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the UK economy and are on a mission to change the world – but they can’t do it on their own.

“Innovate for Good is all about creating the right environment to develop, test and structure their ideas, giving them the best possible chance of success.

Social enterprise advisers from the North East BIC will provide guidance throughout the programme and a panel of experienced social entrepreneurs will act as mentors.

Social enterprise manager, Kevin Marquis, added: “The North East has always been a hotbed for social enterprise. Industrial challenges and societal issues have led to the emergence of innovative solutions and the social enterprise model is best placed to address and deliver these.

“Social enterprises are in our neighbourhoods and on our high streets – from coffee shops and care homes to banks and bus companies. The sector is going through something of a revolution with the rise of conscious consumers who take more interest in the ethical practices of who they buy from.

“We are incredibly excited to help drive forward this momentum, encouraging a new wave of dynamic social enterprises who have the potential to make a real difference to the North East.”