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Institute for Social Innovation and Impact

ISII logo

What is the Institute for Innovation and Impact?

ISII powerpoint presentation being delivered

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

The ISII supports social innovators through the delivery of academic research and consultancy services, including social impact measurement reporting. The Institute collaborates on multi-disciplinary research projects through internal partnerships with 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 and River Trust recognised that recent restoration projects have brought a wide range of benefits to communities, local economies and to the wider waterway network. So we were commissioned to research and review the evidence base and report on the impact that waterway restorations have had.

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

Current projects

Big Issue Invest CSV programme

Big Issue Invest logo

We are 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 with devising a strategies to measure social impact. This work has been led by Dr Richard Hazenberg from the ISII, using their ‘Social Impact Measurement Matrix’ and will ultimately help the Big Issue to understand 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. It 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 provision of investable propositions and VCSEs that are capable of delivering public sector contracts, in order to increase 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 works with existing and new start-up social enterprises across the East of England. Through a programme of engagement, assessment, specialist workshops, networking and comprehensive online support, we are helping them to raise their awareness of the benefits that resource efficiency can bring and 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 for Northamptonshire’s schools to be nationally leading by 2020. It seeks to do this by encouraging high-performing schools to share what works for them, offering grants and bursaries to schools that are seeking to improve, and by encouraging links between businesses and schools to foster work-placements and employability mentoring. This work is being led by Dr Meanu Bajwa-Patel.

Social Impact Resulting from Expenditure on Cadets

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 Asteria Brylka, Researcher in Social Innovation and Impact


Dr Asteria Brylka - Institute of Social Innovation and Impact
01604 892594

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

Dr Fred Seddon

ISII Students

ISII currently has five research students.

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’s research is focused on social impact measurement as a way of managing organisation performance to enhance 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 UK, 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.