ISII logo

What is the Institute for Innovation and Impact?

ISII powerpoint presentation being delivered

The Institute for Social Innovation and Impact (ISII) aims to evaluate and measure the social impact of social innovations in the UK and around the world, as well as exploring the financing of, and policy support for, social innovation. The Institute defines social impact as ‘the economic, social & environmental benefits delivered by an organisation to society’ and views social innovation as any new structure or process that enhances the society’s resources and cohesion.

The ISII supports social innovators to develop their ideas and organisations through the delivery of cutting-edge academic research and consultancy services, including social impact measurement reporting.

The ISII collaborates on multi-disciplinary research projects through internal partnerships with the University’s other research institutes and centres, as well through external partnerships with other universities and organisations.

Areas of interest

The Institute for Social Innovation and Impact has research interests in six areas:

  • Social Innovation
  • Social Investment
  • Social Impact and Social Value
  • Public Service Reform
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Social Policy

Recent projects

Canal and River Trust ‘Waterway Restoration’ (2014)

Canal and River trust

The Canal & River Trust recognised that there are a wide range of benefits that recent restoration projects had brought to communities, local economies and to the wider waterway network.

The University of Northampton was commissioned to research and review the evidence base and evaluate and report on the impact that waterway restorations have had on communities. It was found that there are many economic benefits of the restorations, such as increases in land value, property prices and development, jobs and tourism spending.

Whilst economic benefits were key the impact on local communities in terms of walking/cycling routes, green space and increased community engagement through volunteering were all seen as equally important. What the research found was that the impacts of canal restorations are diverse, wide reaching and interconnected.

Current projects

Big Issue Invest CSV programme

Big Issue Invest logo

The University of Northampton is a key partner in the Big Issue Invest Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme, an investment and mentoring programme for social businesses committed to creating social impact across sectors such as health, education, wellbeing, homelessness and the creative industries

ISII has been actively involved in the evaluation of the programme and assists participants with devising a strategy to measure their social impact. This work has been led by Dr Richard Hazenberg from the ISII, using their ‘Social Impact Measurement Matrix’ and will ultimately lead to the Big Issue understanding the total social impact delivered through their CSV investments.

Big Lottery Big Potential

BIg Lottery Fund logo

ISII is also leading the evaluation of the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Big Potential’ programme, that seeks to raise the investment and contract readiness of ‘voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises’ (VCSEs) through grant funding and expert support. In doing so the programme aims to increase the pipeline of investable propositions and VCSEs capable of delivering public sector contracts, so as to scale social impact and deliver transformational change in communities.

European FP7 Research – EFESEIIS

ISII is a project partner in the ‘Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies’ (EFESEIIS) project. This European Commission funded project is delivered in partnership with nine other academic institutional partners. It seeks to produce new knowledge around social enterprise that enables the European Commission to fully understand the conditions under which social entrepreneurship starts, develops and can contribute effectively and efficiently to solving societal challenges in a sustainable way.

ERDF Impact Project (East of England)

European Regional Development Fund logo

ISII, in partnership with Inspire2Enterprise, is delivering a research project that aims through a programme of engagement, assessment, specialist workshops, networking and comprehensive on-line support, to work with existing and new start-up social enterprises across the East of England to raise their awareness of the benefits of greater business resource efficiency and assist them to understand how they can improve it.

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) – Race to the Top initiative

Northamptonshire County Council logo

ISII is conducting research into the efficacy of NCC’s ‘Race to the Top’ initiative in schools. The  Race to the Top  programme seeks to make Northamptonshire’s schools nationally leading by 2020 through encouraging high-performing schools to share best practice; offering grants and bursaries to schools seeking to improve; and encouraging links between businesses and schools to foster work-placements and employability mentoring. This work is being led by Dr Meanu Bajwa-Patel.

External partners

ISII works with a range of external partners locally, nationally and internationally.

HM treasury logo

Provided research support and input to HM Treasury on their social investment tax relief consultation, as well as their negotiations with the EU relating to state aid and investment caps.


Working with the E3M Network, which seeks to assist successful social enterprise delivery of public services through the sharing of knowledge in relation to markets, money and models

Northamptonshire County Council logo

Working with the Northamptonshire County Council on research that explores the role of local authorities and other stakeholders in partnerships with Academy Schools

College of Economics, Vietnam logo

Formed an institutional partnership with the Centre for Economic Development Studies at the Vietnam National University Hanoi, which seeks to explore the role of social enterprise in developing countries.

Hunan University

Working with Hunan University to explore the differences between Chinese and British social enterprise and facilitating knowledge exchange through staff and student exchanges.

Big Issue Invest logo

Working with the Big Issue Invest on the evaluation of their Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme that supports social enterprises to become investment ready.

BIg Lottery Fund logo

Working with the Big Lottery Fund on the evaluation of their ‘Big Potential’ investment readiness programme.

ISII Staff

Staff working with the ISII include:

Dr Richard Hazenberg, Principal Researcher and Research Leader, ISII

Dr Richard Hazenberg
01604 892423
07803 924987

Dr Meanu Bajwa-Patel, Social Enterprise Researcher

Dr Meanu Bajwa-Patel
01604 892979
07870 572425

Dr Saneeya Qureshi, Researcher in Social Innovation and Impact

Saneeya Qureshi
01604 892644

Dr Fred Seddon, Visiting Research Fellow in Social Innovation and Impact

Dr Fred Seddon

Dr Asteria Brylka, Researcher in Social Innovation and Impact

Dr Asteria Brylka - Institute of Social Innovation and Impact




01604 892594

ISII Students

ISII currently has five research students: Anna Kopec, Payal Jain, Cao Tu Oanh, Claire Paterson and Frances Hudson.

Anna Kopec


Anna’s research explores the role of empathy and shared intentionality in the formation and development of social enterprises

Claire Paterson

Claire Paterson

Claire Paterson’s research is focused on social impact measurement as a form of organisation performance management in enhancing the outcomes for young offenders.

Cao Tu Oanh

Cao Tu Oanh

Oanh’s research focuses on exploring the growth of social value in public services delivery in the United Kingdom, from which some implications will be given to Vietnam.

Payal Jain

Payal Jain

Payal is conducting research that seeks to identify the theoretical underpinnings of social value and to provide a definition of social value that can be utilised by policy-makers, commissioners and other academics

Frances Hudson

Frances Hudson - Institute for Social Innovation and Impact

Frances’s research aims to evaluate and measure the social impact of widening participation activity within the University of Northampton. In particular, this focuses on initiatives to support students who are considered to be under-represented in Higher Education.

Working with ISII

Unfortunately, there are currently no studentship opportunities through the Institute.


Select a recent output below or view all research outputs on NECTAR.