Investment and Contract Readiness Fund
Grants and specialised support are available to ensure that social ventures based and operating in England are better equipped to secure new forms of investment and compete for public service contracts.
Grants of between £50,000 and £150,000 are available. Specialist support from an approved investment and contract readiness provider is also offered. It is anticipated that 130 awards will be made over the three year life of the Fund.
With the growth of the social investment funds market - and particularly the launch of the £600 million impact investment bank Big Society Capital - this fund aims to prepare social ventures to take advantage of social investment impact funds, and to enable them to play a transformative role in how social value is delivered to communities.
The Fund will provide grants to social ventures that have the potential for high growth and to deliver positive social impact.
Applications can be made at any time. A prototyping period is being run until the end of July 2012. The Fund will be closed to applications in August 2012 and will reopen in September 2012 with amended/updated forms and guidance
Social ventures, including registered charities, social enterprises, community and voluntary organisations, social businesses, charities and mutuals are eligible to apply in partnership with an approved advisor.
To be eligible, social ventures must meet the following criteria:
* Based in and working in England.
* Aware of the State Aid implications of seeking the ICRF grant and satisfied that the application, if successful, would be compliant.
* Social ventures can only apply in partnership with approved advisors.
Grants are available to purchase investment and contract readiness support from an approved advisor and to cover some of the costs of putting an investment or contract readiness plan into action.
The proposed work must be designed to prepare the social venture to raise investment of at least £500,000 (external returnable money) to develop services or win contracts of at least £1 million and must be able to be completed within 18 months.
Grants must be used primarily to fund revenue costs, with no expenditure on capital items with a value in excess of £5,000.
Investment and contract ready
Investment readiness means that a social venture has the capacity and capability to seek and make use of investment. Contract readiness means that a social venture has the capacity and capability to bid for and manage service delivery contracts. There are a number of elements that help to make a social venture investment and contract ready, including:
* Effective leadership
* Business planning and strategy
* Policy and procedures
* Funding is not available for proposals which are religious or party political in nature. (This does not exclude faith groups per se.)
* Grants cannot be used for capital items with a value in excess of £5,000.
* The fund does not provide working capital or cover the costs of general overheads.
Payments from the fund are expected to be made in three month tranches in advance. After the initial payment, subsequent tranches will be triggered by achieving the milestones outlined in the agreed plan (which forms a key part of the application).
Applications can be made at any time. Forms are available to download from the fund website.
The investor panel meets regularly (normally every two weeks) and it is expected that a decision or a request for further information will be made within three to four weeks of receipt of applications.
Note: Providers must apply for approval before they are eligible to participate in the Fund - and social ventures can only apply to the Fund in partnership with an approved advisor.
Information about approved specialised providers, and how to become an approved provider, is provided on the Fund website.