Launched in July 2021, the Changemaker Incubator is a dedicated support environment providing expertise, resources, and funding into high value social impact collaboration. During the last 10 years, the UK has seen a significant rise in the establishment of charities and social enterprises to address a growing range of societal issues. However, the sustainability of these developments is a key issue, centred around how ventures can gain access to the specialised support they require.
Through the creation of the Changemaker Incubator, the University of Northampton has developed a mechanism through which Voluntary, Charity and Social Enterprise organisations can access dedicated support; aligning focus, building alliances and driving joined up activity for measurable social impact.
Through its presence, the Changemaker Incubator nurtures social innovation and enterprise both internally with University of Northampton students, staff, and alumni, and externally into the local, national, and global community. All incubator activity is underpinned by the University of Northampton Changemaker Commitment framework, providing four strategic social impact themes.
The Changemaker Incubator is structured around three core strands: Changemaker Certificate, Innovation and Enterprise, and Social Impact.
The Changemaker Incubator provides a dedicated Innovation and Enterprise service for students, graduates, and staff of the University of Northampton.
This vibrant and well-established service exists to stimulate and develop ideas, and to take them to a full prototype and testing as enterprises, products, services, projects, or even partnerships.
Through a carefully facilitated learning and development process, we guide the design and shaping of ideas into a well-structured and carefully built commercially sustainable offering – which can be presented to an expert panel for start-up funding and ongoing support.
In addition, working directly with lecturers and faculties, the Changemaker Incubator directly supports students into self-employment/freelancing. This encompasses workshops and support which is embedded as part of learning within courses, specifically where self-employment is part of the curriculum outcomes, or identified as part of a student’s career development pathway.
As a university, we have built our strategy around changemaking with a commitment to “Transforming Lives and Inspiring Change”. This includes having four interrelated commitments that focus the positive social impact that we create.
Each of these commitments is a strategic area for the university. We hold at our core a mission for driving positive change to people and the local economy. For many years the University has been committed to making a positive social, environmental, cultural, and financial impact with a clear strategic objective to step-out as the leader within the wider UK innovation ecosystem.
The University of Northampton creates a positive social impact in society by committing to work to ensure that:
- Every young person can flourish and learn
- Positive health and wellbeing is fostered and promoted for all
- Cultures, heritage, and environment are respected, protected, and enhanced for future generations
- There is a positive environment in which entrepreneurial opportunities are supported to grow.
The University of Northampton is strategically anchored to, and is a signatory of the UN SDG Accord. It has established a Social Impact Matrix® framework which consolidates the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into FOUR social impact themes (Changemaker Commitments).
Through this framework, the University robustly measures and specifically reports societal impact, resulting from outcomes captured from socioeconomic development services and projects.
To take a lead across the county of Northamptonshire for delivering tangible social impact, the University launched the Changemaker Incubator in July 2021. This now provides a dedicated structure which supports the county’s Voluntary, Charity and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector to deliver their services and projects. The Social Impact Matrix® is deployed to provides a countywide picture of evolving social impact achieved by the from these VCSE services and projects.
To financially underpin all of this, the Changemaker Incubator operates a social impact alliance which connects Northamptonshire’s University, Police, Fire, Council and NHS procurement operations. This alliance binds their collective suppliers of services and goods into the Changemaker Incubator, and aligns them with the county’s FOUR social impact themes.
Suppliers are therefore connected directly into the VCSE organisations delivering services and projects within the Changemaker Incubator, and are publicly aligned with the resulting socioeconomic impact publicly presented.
For the county, the University has established a significant and long-term Changemaker solution for collaborating to define, measure, sustain and scale the transformation of Northamptonshire’s communities and environment.