Located in the Tempest on Tithebarn Street, in Liverpool’s business district, LAB by Capacity began life as Launch 22 and brought the collaborative working ethos to the city for the first time. Tony McDonough reports
Social entrepreneurs from across the Liverpool city region have competed for a £1,000 cash prize and free use of Liverpool’s leading collaborative workspace, LAB by Capacity.
Located in the Tempest on Tithebarn Street, in the heart of Liverpool’s business district, LAB by Capacity began life as Launch 22 in 2015 and brought the collaborative working ethos to the city for the first time.
Now the facility, which is home to 61 businesses, has undergone a rebrand worth almost £100,000 to begin the next stage of its evolution that will see it reaching out to up and coming entrepreneurs and social innovators in Merseyside.
There will also be a regular programme of high-profile speakers at special events, with an emphasis on social entrepreneurship and business growth. This kicked off with a talk from senior Government advisor Danny Kruger, the UK’s ‘Tsar for Civil Society’ earlier this month.
Mr Kruger took part in a dynamic, two-way discussion with an audience of local public, private and third sector leaders.
One of the major conclusions that emerged from the session was the notion that businesses needed to dispense with their “amateur” approach to corporate social responsibility and put social value at the heart of their business models.
And that is exactly the ethos of LAB by Capacity, which is also offering its members a mentoring programme and series of business growth workshops designed to turbo charge the dynamic cohort of entrepreneurs in residence.
On Thursday, June 28, the team introduced their first Social Pitch Night that saw 6 social entrepreneurs pitch their transformational business ideas to a panel of experts for a chance to win a £1,000 cash prize, (courtesy of sponsors Page Personnel) three months free membership of LAB by Capacity and potential investment into their venture.
The winner was Innovate Volunteering, a Knowsley social enterprise that provides training for people who want to make a contribution to their communities. Many of the people they train are themselves survivors of challenging life experiences, such as domestic violence, who want to use their experiences to help others.
Chris Witterick, operations director at LAB by Capacity, said: “Launch 22 was a real trailblazer for Liverpool when it opened its doors three years ago and now LAB by Capacity is taking the concept onto a new level, feeding off the ever-growing appetite in the city for social entrepreneurship.
“Innovate Volunteering were a truly worthy winner of our first Social Pitch Night. That said, all of the runners up were also incredibly deserving. So we decided to award all of them three months free membership at LAB. We felt that they would benefit from a city centre base and the training we can provide on growing social business.”
Capacity was founded in 2015 by partners Catch22, Interserve PLC, Big Society Capital and Clubfinance and works in the public sector space, supported by public investment, to bring public, private and third sector organisations together and rethink and reimagine how public services are delivered.
Chief executive Chris Catterall added: “We want to support new charities and social enterprises and improve the life chances of people across the city region.
“And we want to create a different type of business support service. People are frustrated by the current system of transactional and bureaucratic EU support system. We want to help businesses at the start-up stage and focus on their survival and create employment opportunities.”