Bottle of Ginger, a community drinks company based in Glasgow.
Bottle of Ginger, a community drinks company based in Glasgow.

Search now on for next generation of Scottish social innovators

A search has been launched for the next generation of Scottish social innovators.

Delivered by social enterprise agency Firstport as part of the Scottish Government’s 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy, the Social Innovation Competition offers three £5000 prizes along with tailored business support to the most exciting, innovative ideas tackling social issues.

The competition was launched at Bottle of Ginger, a community drinks company in Bridgeton, Glasgow, which aims to change the local “juice” culture involving the local community in challenging consumption habits, redefining ‘ginger’ and rethinking the whole manufacturing process, from the way ingredients are sourced to how packaging is reused.

The Social Innovation Competition 2017, which has open for applications, celebrates and supports individuals and start up companies in Scotland that are using their creativity and imagination to solve pressing social issues, focusing on culture, heritage and tourism. This is particularly relevant as Scotland celebrates the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

The winners, including one young social innovator, will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament in November and receive £5000 alongside support from Firstport, Scotland’s agency for start up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “The Social Innovation Competition is an exciting opportunity for anyone developing a new product or service that is tackling a social issue to get recognition and support to move it forward. We hope people all over Scotland will realise and appreciate how social innovations have massively improved the way we live our lives and think about they can make a difference to their own communities”.

Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, said: “Social entrepreneurs are driven by an overriding passion to improve local communities as well as the world in which we live.  Therefore I am delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting Firstport’s Social Innovation Competition.

“There are already more than 5,000 social enterprises operating the length and breadth of Scotland, with more than 200 new start-ups every year.  Competitions like this not only encourage the creation of more social enterprises, they contribute to making us a more innovative, fair and equal country.”

Heritage – one of the competition themes – has been the driving force behind Glasgow drinks company Bottle of Ginger, who launched their latest product at Bridgeton Market yesterday.

Managing Director Natalia Jejer said: “We are currently working on a project which explores the berry picking heritage of our local East End community. We are revisiting this lost tradition with a group of local women – we've gone strawberry picking at East Yonderton Farm and made a big batch of strawberry cordial which we are selling locally. The profits from the sales will be reinvested into the community ensuring that this heritage is remembered. There's plenty of ideas in the pipeline including a local berry micro-farm and an annual berry picking trip for those who took part in the project.”

Firstport has already worked with many Scottish social innovators to help them get their ideas off the ground, including Bottle of Ginger, and Uist Wool, a spinning mill & wool centre in the Hebrides.

The winners of last year’s inaugural Social Innovation Competition were Studio Pop (Young Social Innovator), Pianos on Prescription and Gold Handmade Footwear.

Firstport will be holding a series of information sessions around the country, including Stirling, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow, over the next two months. Anyone interested should visit www.firstport.org.uk/programmes/socialinnovation for more information.

Applications close on Monday 9 October.