Eidos Challenges via ProBono Australia 0

Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2017
By: Eidos Institute
Category tags: Social Procurement Challenge. < < <

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A national competition is using crowdsourcing and philanthropic funds to gather the best ideas from across Australia to solve issues around social procurement and the growth of social enterprise.

The Eidos Institute’s Social Procurement Challenge, in partnership with the English Family Foundation, aims to answer a carefully developed question via crowdsourcing on “how to build capacity on the supply side of ‘good procurement’ in a flexible and collaborative way”.

In June, Eidos and the Brisbane-based English Family Foundation brought together 20 national leaders to tackle and frame the challenge of growing the social enterprise sector – essentially asking how can social enterprises in Australia be made more capable and able to achieve higher impact.

English Family Foundation executive chairman Allan English told ProBono News the issue was of strong interest to the English Family Foundation.

“The English Family Foundation has been particularly focused on the growth of social enterprise in Australia for the past few years. It is clear now that we must develop the capability of the sector to explore new approaches to scaling for impact,” English said.

“We partnered with Eidos as their framework is an innovative way for us to open this issue up to hear national voices.”

English said social procurement was the next stage of a broader strategy to try to grow the social enterprise movement in Australia.

“So in broad context there is a wave of capital that’s coming through the impact investment space that will be coming into the Australian marketplace from larger funds wanting their capital to do some social good,” English said.

“But they need to be investing in businesses of scale, so in that $1 to $5 million category, but at the moment in Australia the number of social enterprises that are available to take advantage of this particular capital coming into the market-place is really small." 

“So we need to be able to scale up the social enterprise sector to be able to provide greater opportunities for them to scale and leverage up their opportunities and then take advantage of this capital coming in down the track.”

He said the “logical next step” of building the sector would be having a strong procurement program.

“[We need a program] that looks at how we build our social enterprises with capacity to scale up the supply side of it and then we can then bring the demand side of it on board with both government and corporates to have a flow on effect,” he said.

“What we are looking for is really about fresh ideas, fresh thinking from as many different perspectives as we can to be able to have a collaborative approach to innovation and building new ideas into how do we actually build the capacity to scale it up.

“What is some fresh thinking that we can bring into the sector? We are doing it in the context of not just bringing in people that have traditionally come from the community sector where their lens of the world has been shaped by their life experience, what this is about is opening it up to the broader community from the educational facilities, universities and obviously innovators around the globe that could be attracted to having a prize that could be recognising their ideas and tip them into the pot.”

“But we only want a small little slice of that pot,” he said.

CEO of Eidos Institute Bruce Muirhead said they were “looking for solutions in new places”.

“We are asking applicants to go beyond single dimensional solutions, to enable them and other innovators to collaborate together to develop richer, multi-dimensional solutions,” Muirhead said.

“The challenge is about boosting social enterprise in Australia. We are hoping we can generate a whole lot of diffused, disparate ideas, some of which can be backed and made a reality.”

The challenge will culminate with a pitch competition which will be held in Brisbane on Thursday 7 December. The pitch competition will see the final five entrants pitching their ideas to a selection panel and a group of industry representatives including philanthropy, impact investors, incubators and regulators.

The successful proponent of the Social Procurement Challenge will receive a $25,000 contribution towards bringing their idea into a reality.

Innovative teams will have until Friday 3 November 2017 to submit an idea. For registrations or further information about the challenge visit the Eidos Institute website at www.eidos.org.au.

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