This free online programme will guide a select cohort of innovators through a virtual support journey, designed to accelerate innovation that builds resilience in one of three areas: business continuity; socially inclusive services; or environmental protection.

This programme is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund, and is open to start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs based in England with, with priority given to parts of the East of England.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has unveiled the vulnerabilities in our current business and economic systems. With rising global temperatures, it is expected that future shocks caused by climate-related disasters will become more frequent and far reaching, posing serious challenges to economies and escalating social unrest. There is a critical need for new and innovative approaches that can strengthen resilience, contribute to the recovery and minimise the economic and social impact of future disruption. We are looking for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and technologies that build resilience in three areas: business continuity, socially inclusive services and environmental protection.

Business innovation will play a critical role in both the recovery from the current pandemic, and developing resilience to future shocks, as we strive to build a new rewired economy that is underpinned by sustainability principles, reducing inequality and improving wellbeing.

Who should apply

Start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs with innovative ideas and technologies that will build resilience and reduce the economic, environmental and social impact of system disruption. The innovations submitted should fall within one of the three categories:

business continuity (innovating business models and reconfiguring value chains)

socially inclusive services (with a focus on but not limited to health and wellbeing, finance, transport and food)

environmental protection (climate resilience, water, biodiversity)

These can be either products or services delivered by the company or aiming to facilitate co-creation of solutions.

Eligibility criteria:

Start up, entrepreneur, or SME based in England. Priority will be given to those based in the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough area

your innovation must not duplicate existing solutions, but could be an innovative application of existing systems or technology from another sector

you need to be committed to complete the eight-week long accelerator programme

during the programme duration you must not be participating in any similar accelerator programmes

How it works

The Innovators for Change Accelerator programme will provide fast track business support to develop and strengthen your innovation through a structured eight-week online programme, delivered by the CISL Accelerator.

Programme outline:

Week 1: Introduction - virtual meet the cohort, introduce your concept, and explore the key challenges and opportunities for innovators to develop business models with greater resilience, futureproofed for times of disruption.

Week 2-6: Business Labs with peer-innovators to exchange ideas, insights and best practices. The labs will cover topics of core importance to business development including: designing/re-designing your business model, growing and scaling-up your innovation; measuring and communicating impact; and financing your innovation.

Week 7: One-to-one clinics with CISL Accelerator Programme Managers and mentors from CISL’s network to develop your business concept and refine your pitch.

Week 8: Pitch to innovators – An online pitch competition, giving participating innovators an opportunity to translate all acquired knowledge and skills into action. Peer-to-peer feedback from the innovator community and the CISL Accelerator team.

Estimated workload per week: 1-2 hours of online participation, plus preparation for the sessions of around 2-3 hours.

How to apply

If you are interested in joining the Innovators for Change Accelerator programme, please complete the online application form, or get in touch if you would like to discuss your application.

Key dates:

Application deadline: Wednesday 20 May 2020

The Innovators for Change Accelerator programme will run from 3 June – 24 July

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