Social Enterprise University Enterprise Network - Our Services
How we can help

The SE-UEN is a specialist support agency offering research, workshops, knowledge transfer surgeries, events and internship programmes across the UK. We work with a wide range of clients including the third or civil society sector, higher education institutions, and the public and private sector. 

As experts in our field, we are uniquely placed to help you set up or develop your own social enterprise. We offer well-informed advice and have a solid understanding of all social enterprise matters, which means we can help you find the right solutions for you. 

One of the unique elements of the SE-UEN offer is our ability to draw on academic experts from across our university network to add value to our work. At the same time, we work hard to ensure that our work is accessible and client focused, meeting often precise needs. Our work is independent, objective and thoroughly researched with a helpful no nonsense style. 

Informing policy through research

Policy and research is a core priority for the Social Enterprise University Enterprise Network (SE-UEN). Through an annual research programme, the SE-UEN will develop an evidence base that:

  • Identifies national and international best practice
  • Advances understanding of social enterprises amoungst students and Higher Education Institutions’ staff is based on the needs of social enterprises
  • Underpins its wider activities
To achieve this, our research programme will explore key questions including:

  • What are the barriers to the creation and growth of social enterprises?
  • What are the barriers to social enterprises delivering public services?
  • How can social enterprises be supported to overcome these barriers?
  • How can Higher Education Institutions best support social enterprises?
  • What represents a sustainable social enterprise business model?
  • What is the social value and impact of social enterprises?
  • What are the relative benefits of a social enterprise business model in a Big Society of open public services?
Doing things differently? The social value of social enterprises

Social enterprises are: 

 “A business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.” 
(Cabinet Office, 2006, p10). 

Their ability to deliver social and environmental outcomes through business means has captured the attention of successive UK governments.  However, the evidence to support the claims that social enterprise can deliver a service distinct to that of either the public or private sector is lacking. 

The scoping literature review aimed to identify and explore the literature on the social value of social enterprise, where social value refers to the wider non-financial impacts generated. 

The UK policy context 
Continuous UK governments have been committed to developing social enterprise activity and their role in the delivery of public services.  The first UK social enterprise strategy was published by the Labour Government in 2002 and the current Coalition government continues to support social enterprises through its Big Society policy agenda. 

The passing of the Public Services (Social Value) Bill by Parliament will mean that social enterprises are likely to be well placed to deliver future contracts, as all commissioning authorities will have to consider the economic, environmental and social well-being associated with public service contracts.

HEFCE and UnLtd H.E. support initiative

This is a programme of financial and non-financial support to promising social entrepreneurs, which will be running for the whole 2013/2014 academic year. There are two award levels:
  • Try It Awards of up to £500 are aimed at people who have an idea but need some help to build their confidence and skills.
  • Do It Awards of up to £5,000 are for individuals who have an idea which will change society for the better, and want help getting it off the ground.
Awardees must be:
  • Students, staff or recent graduates (graduated within 1 year)
  • Over the age of 16
  • Living in the UK for the duration of the project
  • Who are individuals or part of an informal group  
Projects must:
  • Benefit the public or a community in the UK
  • Demonstrate a connection to the Higher Education Sector
  • Need a HE Social Entrepreneurship Award to ensure their success
  • Not be part of the applicant’s paid employment
  • Be an entrepreneurial solution to a social problem
  • Instigate social impact or social change
  • Not be for activities outside the law, against public policy or anything that fosters ethnic, religious or commercial disharmony
How to apply

If you have a socially enterprising idea and you are a student, staff member or recent graduate, register your interest in a HEFCE/UnLtd HE Support Social Enterprise Initiative award and get the cash you need to kick-start your business.

Find out more about Social Enterprise Support here and register at socialenterprise@plymouth.ac.uk.