Innovating the Future

Social Enterprise & Social Innovation

The University of Glasgow is launching a new initiative called Innovating the Future to promote, develop and sustain social enterprise as an alternative set of models for academic spin out opportunities. Our goal is to build an innovative social entrepreneurial ecosystem, delivering high-impact world-leading research from all disciplinary foci to the populations who will benefit most.

In Scotland, social enterprise has no legal definition, but it is defined using a Voluntary Code of Practice with accepted benchmarks. Social enterprise are businesses that trade for the common good, rather than for the interests of shareholders. Additionally, social enterprises address social needs, strengthen communities, improve life quality and length, enhance culture, or protect the environment.  

According to the Scottish Government, the Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprises describes a community of organisations with the following characteristics:

  • They trade in a marketplace with the primary objective of social or environmental benefit.
  • Any profits are reinvested back into the business or for the benefit of the people it exists to serve, rather than distributed to shareholders or owners (an asset lock).
  • On dissolution, any assets are reinvested in another organisation with similar aims and objectives (an asset lock).
  • They aspire to financial independence through trading, which sets them apart from other charities and voluntary organisations.
  • They operate outside of the direct influence or control of public authorities.

But how applicable is it to the research that you do at Glasgow?

In October 2017, the University of Glasgow signed the Sustainable Development Goals Accord. This committed us to combatting poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation, and to promoting peace and justice.

In support of this, the social enterprise business model offers you an enterprising approach to developing your research into a commercialisation project whilst keeping the social and/or environmental impact at the centre of its development.

Social enterprise can encompass all types of models from charity to mission-driven businesses, and the IP & Innovation team will work with you as an academic inventor to develop your intervention into a sustainable social enterprise.