Blue-sky thinking and still no roof overhead
The Taoiseach launched Social Innovation Fund Ireland this week. Often touted as the new big idea, social innovation is not really a new concept, just a modern way of describing how people and organisations can more effectively respond to a social problem or unmet need.
The aim of the fund, chaired by former KPMG managing partner and current chairman of Enterprise Ireland, Terence O'Rourke, is to provide growth capital and support - including business mentoring and technology - to the best social innovations so as to maximise their impact. Last December the Animate programme was launched, Ireland's first "non-profit accelerator" which supports early-stage innovations to the next stage of their development. The idea emerged from the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising set up by Government in 2012.
The four projects awarded funding were diverse. One was Thriftify, a tech start-up which helps charities value and sell donated books more efficiently online for higher prices. Another was the Save a Selfie mobile app designed to help the public pinpoint the location of emergency equipment in their locality. Recreate is a social enterprise that takes end-of-line and surplus stock from businesses and reuses them as arts materials. Another funded project was Carebright, a homecare provider which has created Ireland's first community hub in Co Limerick for people living with dementia.