Social Incubator Fund


Funding for social incubators in England to help them to provide investment and support to early stage social ventures.

Value Notes

There are two elements to the funding available, and applicants are expected to apply for both:

  • Between £50,000 and £250,000 per year towards operating costs for up to four years.
  • Between £100,000 and £750,000 per year to contribute to an investment book, which is to be invested within two years.

The maximum total amount that can be applied for is £1.5 million. Projects are expected to run for a minimum of one year.

Incubators are expected to keep their operating costs and investment book separate. The investment book is the capital that will be fully invested into the underlying social ventures as a debt or equity investment. There is no requirement for this money to be returned and any return on the investment book can be used to support additional social ventures.

Extended Description

The Social Incubator Fund is provided by the Office for Civil Society (OCS) and will be administered over the next three years by the Big Lottery Fund. The Fund will specifically target social incubators and will help them provide investment and support to early stage social ventures.

The Fund aims to help drive a robust pipeline of start-up social ventures into the social investment market, by increasing focus on incubation support, and attracting new incubators into the market. It will also increase the finance available at early stages of enterprise where the financial return is too low and/or the financial risk is too high for Big Society Capital and other investors.

Latest Information

Round Two deadline: 6 September 2013 (12 noon).

Key Criteria

Social incubators that are based and operating primarily in England are eligible to apply. Organisations are not required to have previous experience of providing support and investment to early stage social ventures, although a track record of delivering this work might be an advantage.

Organisations must have attended the briefing event that took place in London on 20 May 2013. Applications from organisations that did not attend the briefing event will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

Eligible Expenditure

Social incubators are expected to offer a portfolio of intensive support over a limited period of time and to have the capacity to help at least 50 social ventures over the life of the project.

A social venture is an organisation that tackles social problems, is financially sustainable and wants to scale up.

A social incubator is a social venture (or a social venture led partnership of organisations) that accelerates the development of cohorts of selected early stage social ventures over a time-limited period.

Funding is available for projects that will deliver the following outcomes:

  • Improved quality and quantity of early stage social ventures going on to seek financial support from the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund and/or social investment intermediaries.
  • Improved signposting between social investment intermediaries for early stage social ventures, particularly to enable them to secure further investment if appropriate.
  • Increased numbers of social investors making investments into early stage social ventures.

Match Funding Restrictions

Applicants must be able to secure match funding as follows:

  • Match funding for operating costs – no match is required for incubators applying for up to £200,000 over three years. Any applications for payment of operating costs of above £200,000 over three years need to be at least 50% match funded by a third-party investor.
  • Match funding for investment book – applications of up to £1.5 million investment per incubator per year require at least 50% match funding from third-party investors (or at least 30% match in assisted areas).


Funding is not available for the following:

  • Day-to-day running costs, current or regular activities, general appeals, endowments or fundraising that is unrelated to the project.
  • Retrospective costs.
  • Building or refurbishment work.
  • The purchase of land or buildings.
  • The purchase of any office equipment.
  • Feasibility studies.
  • Items that only benefit one person.
  • Loans or interest repayments for loans taken out by the organisation.
  • Religious or political activities.
  • Travel outside the UK.

Payment Procedure

The first payment will consist of the full funding for the organisation’s investment book and a proportion of the organisation’s operating costs.

Application Procedure

Application forms should be returned by email.

Subsequent rounds of this fund are expected to launch in 2013 and 2014. These rounds will be open to applications from newer social incubators. Organisations that are interested in applying to these future rounds will need to attend a briefing event. For more details and to register an interest, organisations should

Contact BIG for further information.

 Addresses and contacts

For further information on how to obtain this funding opportunity locally, please contact the following:

Social Incubator Fund Enquiries
BIG Lottery Fund
1 Plough Place
Telephone:0845 4 10 20 30

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