The Flax Trust

School for Social Enterprises in Ireland/SSEI

SSEI School for Social Enterprises in Ireland/SSEI

Prof Ken O’Neill Chair SSEI, Professor Emeritus of Entrepreneurship University of Ulster is presented with cheque for Bursaries and Master Classes by Sr. Mary Turley and Fr. Myles Kavanagh Flax Trust with Prof Jackie McCoy Director University of Ulster/QA Business School Partnership London & Birmingham/Director SSEI

The Masterclass Series Review

The Masterclasses in the Social Enterprise Means Business series have been a huge success.

  • The organisation was managed through a consortium of SSEI, Podiem and UCIT
  • The funding was provided by
    • Flax Trust – £20k which leveraged a further £50k + ‘in kind’ from
      • Department for Enterprise Trade & Investment
      • Department for Social Development
      • Invest NI

Series attendance numbers were at the top end of the estimates with over 500+ of the desired calibre of delegates i.e. influencers and decision makers attending.

Delegate feedback from each session was exceptionally positive.

As detailed in the full report the series secured significant Ministerial and Departmental attendance with either the Minister, Permanent Secretary or both

  • Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment,
  • Department of Finance and Personnel
  • Department of the Environment
  • Department for Social Development
  • Additionally Invest NI Representatives attended every Masterclass

The masterclasses were presented by senior figures and leaders in the social enterprise sector from across the UK as well as local exemplars who shared leading edge and best practice examples from their areas of expertise such as

  • Industry sectors – Health, Tourism, Culture, Regeneration
  • Enterprise topics – Funding, Procurement, Management & Leadership, Growth Strategies, Collaboration and Transitioning from Community to Social Enterprise.

The Social Enterprise Means Business brand and the key messages have resonated with the target audience namely

  • The need for a more professional business approach across the sector
  • The need to develop a more robust approach to growth
  • The need to have a strategy for risk and funding
  • The need for greater collaboration across and between sectors

Finally, the series has enjoyed considerable profile within the local press, with each event being covered by the daily newspapers, weekly newspapers and/or major business publications. The series was also covered on radio.

There is clear evidence to support the assertion that this was the single most impactful initiatives for the sector in NI

Advanced Diploma in Social Enterprise

Prof Ken O’Neill, Chairman, SSEI

The Advanced Diploma in Social Enterprise is presented by SSEI in collaboration with The Ulster Business School, Ulster University. Funding is in the main provided in the form of £1000 bursaries through the Flax Trust and without which this programme would not be viable.

Screen Shot 2014 02 23 at 21.03.15 School for Social Enterprises in Ireland/SSEI

The previous programme attracted a cohort of some 15 participants who graduated in 2013 all of whom were in receipt of Flax Trust Bursaries. For the 2014 intake the most significant feature has been the increased level of awareness, interest and uptake in this programme. This was due to a number of innovations introduced including the partnership with Podiem Ltd to undertake a number of operational activities including promoting the programme. Our initial approached to Flax Trust was for an increase from 15 – 18 bursaries but as a consequence of the innovations introduced and the overwhelming response we had to go back to seek a total of 27 Bursaries.

  • Over 40 people applied for places and were invited for interview
  • Some 25 Bursaries were allocated to relevant applicants
  • With 4 self-financed participants.
  • Total participants is 29 an increase of 100% over previous years
  • Province wide reach

It is worth noting that we have consolidated our partnership arrangement with Podiem to undertake project management and operational activities for SSEI and that as you can see is proving to be very effective.

We are particularly delighted with the range of Social Enterprises represented on the programme such as care, community employment schemes, social housing, and enterprise start up facilities, recycling, renewables as well as culture, arts and leisure.

We are particularly encouraged that we have a number of founders and directors as well as a substantial percentage of influencers and decision makers drawn from middle and senior management levels.

As always we are looking to develop this programme and to that end we have established a Course Management Steering Committee that are driving improvements in both the programme content and participant experience. This will also include much greater involvement with guest speakers from private, public and social enterprise sectors as well increase access to best practice visits and peer mentoring sessions.

SSEI Future Plans

Looking ahead we are very excited to announce that The University of Ulster in Association with the School of Social Enterprises will co-host the 9th European Conference for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ECIE) in Belfast on 17th-19th September 2014. The ‘Societal-Driven Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ theme was selected to harness the potential of the social sector and will give local social enterprises access to pan-European and international best practice. This conference is expected to attract in the region of 200 international delegates

Some highlights of the areas to be covered in the ECIE are as follows

  • Knowledge transfer activities ranging from idea generation and knowledge sharing best practices presented at the conference and derived from the pre-conference workshops to enhance the probability of follow-on Innovation Vouchers, KTPs and Horizon 2020 partnerships.
  • Entrepreneurial and innovation management teaching and learning case studies will create better awareness and new insights into best practices in this area.
  • Technology transfer activities and commercialization strategies in Europe will be presented, and will provide another opportunity for cross learning amongst peers in this conference.
  • Innovation policy studies and best practices will be disseminated, with an opportunity for NI policy makers to benchmark and engage with conference agenda.

Pre-conference workshops:

ECIE registered attendees will be able to attend pre-conference workshop delivered by leading experts in areas such as.

  • Developmental and capacity-building workshops primarily aimed at social enterprises, entrepreneurship education and training professionals, technology transfer professionals and researchers.
  • Business Model Development for Social Enterprises
  • Technology transfer process management best practices for university incubators, science parks and research parks.
  • Winning Procurement tenders – lessons learned from successful applicants

New Masterclass Series

SSEI is delighted to announce a brand new initiative in which we are partnering with Deloitte to deliver a three part Masterclass programme. Deloitte’s have been increasing engaged with this sector through their Social Innovation Pioneers and ‘On Purpose’ initiatives. Building on the impact we have already achieved through SEMB this will concentrate on THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE


In advance of the series SSEI will partner with leading law firm A & L Goodbody to present a master class dealing with the issues of Building & Leading Effective Boards