A new £15 million challenge prize has today been launched to catalyse private sector demand for social investment in the UK. The Business Impact Challenge, launched by social investment bank Big Social Capital, is looking for the best idea for a high-impact investment that generates strong business and social value in the UK.
Entries will be judged by an expert panel chaired by Lord Davies of Abersoch (former Chairman of Standard Chartered and Minister of State for Trade and investment) and including internet entrepreneur Baroness Lane Fox, Economist journalist Matthew Bishop, Harvey McGrath (former Chairman of Prudential plc and Man Group plc), Ian Davis (former Managing Director of McKinsey & Co), Karen Lynch (social entrepreneur CEO of Belu Water) and Nick O’Donohoe (Chief Executive of Big Society Capital).
Lord Davies, who will chair the panel, said:
“Today’s most innovative companies are building social value into the core of their strategy, moving beyond Corporate Social Responsibility activities to generate competitive advantage through business models that create positive financial and social impact. This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses at the forefront of this movement to not only benefit from the investment, but also from the expertise and support of Big Society Capital.”
The launch of the Business Impact Challenge signals the growing momentum around the role businesses can play in tackling society’s most pressing issues through social impact investing. Key examples in the past year have come from brands including Nandos, Centrica and Danone.
By supplying social sector organisations with the capital they need to scale and grow their impact, social impact investment can provide companies with access to new markets, products, services or technologies, and help develop attract and retain talent in an increasingly competitive and resource constrained environment.
However, a key hurdle is understood to be in-house expertise in this area. As well as the matched investment, the winning idea will also receive expert support in structuring and launching their idea from Big Society Capital.
Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital, said:
“The Business Impact Challenge signifies Big Society Capital’s commitment to supporting corporates in making investments that intentionally generate social outcomes and business innovations. Corporate Social Impact Investment is most powerful when it reflects a company’s strategic priorities at the core.”
The winner will be announced in Autumn 2015.