A new model of Accelerator – in public services


Inventive two-stage Accelerator for creating social enterprises and services in the field of public services

Under their three-year contract with the Cabinet Office to run Accelerators for developing social enterprises, Hub Launchpad has developed an unusual two-stage approach. Rather than promoting ideas for new businesses, it aims to help participants to identify issues in public services and to form teams; and then to work together to develop solutions as social enterprises or new service models within the public sector that will be able to take root and grow.

Hub Launchpad has started its Accelerator programme – which is focusing on public services – under its contract with the Cabinet Office for social enterprises, with a pre-accelerator 16-week programme (dubbed ‘Scholarship’). A hundred and twenty people were selected (out of around 250 applicants) – to meet about once a week, to discuss their personal missions around public services, to hear lectures and make visits, to share ideas – about possible objectives, to form teams, and to talk about possible learning journeys.

Out of this process around sixty people (some independent, some intrapreneurs, and not all of them from the pre-accelerator) are to participate in a 14-week Accelerator programme whose aim is to help the 15 or so teams (each of up to four people) to tackle an issue of their choosing in specific organisations (local authorities, housing associations, charities etc.)

Meeting regularly each week, the Accelerator is an intensive programme (‘close to full time’), though some participants may have to square this with their job. The regime is based on techniques such as the Lean Startup and the Business Model Canvass, and anticipates the developing of hypotheses in their journeys to deliver solutions to the issue they aim to tackle. The programme is focused round weekly meetings at which teams present their progress etc to each other and get feed-back.

Collaboration between the teams is a big part of the process. The regular contribution from Hub Launchpad is through two facilitators attached to the programme, plus some co-optees (there are no assigned mentors), who may offer a degree of direction to what are otherwise self-managed team journeys. The facilitators will encourage participants to go out and meet end-users and will help identify and introduce participants to them. A parallel strand in the programme is about enhancing participants’ related knowledge and skills eg about leadership, business ethics, accountability etc.

Participants each receive £9,400, and the teams compete for one of several different size prizes from a Prize Pot of £45k, the largest of which is £25k. The hope is that teams will generate scaleable organisations or services that will be able to attract investments from other social investors.

Hub Launchpad hopes to recycle its investment (which is funded under its contract with the Cabinet Office) from loans to these enterprises and/or revenue sharing. And it is aiming to enable the government’s contribution to continue the development of social enterprise for as long as possible. Its second programme will tackle community businesses and will take place in Birmingham. It third will tackle open, alternative models in financial services and the fourth programme will be around the theme of open manufacturing.

The Centre for Leadership in Creativity

January 2014