Irish Social Business Campus Forum aims to inspire social change

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Lucy Findley, SE Mark UK, Paul Ellingstad, PTI Advisors and Briga Hynes, UL Kemmy Business School and Eamon Ryan, CEO of ISBC pictured at the Irish Social Business Campus (ISBC) Forum at Thomond Park. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick.

The Irish Social Business Campus (ISBC) recently held its inaugural forum in Thomond Park Stadium to gather together private, public and non-profit sectors to explore the possible way they can all collaborate to make a social impact and to help promote and inspire social change.

The ISBC is a new collaborative initiative, set-up in the interest of providing a support system for social enterprises across Ireland. Their aim is to help foster a growing community of viable, robust and socially impactful businesses and individuals.

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Eamon Ryan, CEO of ISBC, said, “What is most important about today’s ISBC Forum is that it shows what might be possible when people connect meaningfully. Today, people from a commercial, public and social background met and talked with honesty to each other, exploring the mutual value for each sector – letting us all visualise what might be possible through collaboration. It is though, just a beginning and what matters is how we build from here. Those first steps are the building blocks to great success stories.”

ISBC was initiated by BNest, the first dedicated Social Enterprise Incubator Programme in Ireland was established in 2016. It quickly became apparent that this socially-motivated educational programme was not enough. One of the key components to creating really powerful and effective support is making connections and with this, in mind, the ISBC was established.

Nexus Innovation Centre, Kemmy Business School, followed by Clare Local Development Company, South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD), North & East Kerry Development Company (NEWKD) and Ludgate Hub – all came together with BNest to create the ISBC consortium – a regional, collaborative and practical support structure to help the creation and growth of businesses for social impact. 

The inaugural forum was held to allow discussion with private, public and non-profit sectors and promote greater interactions amongst which can come in many different forms.

The Forum a day-long event, with guest speakers and workshops being held throughout the day. The workshops gave the individual members a chance to sit down on a one-to-one basis, with guest speakers giving talks about building a social enterprise and the importance of establishing international connections.

The guest speakers were Briga Hynes from Kemmy Business School, Lucy Findley from Social Enterprise Mark UK, Karel Vanderpoorten from the European Commission and Paul Ellingstad from PTI Advisors.

Briga Hynes spoke about the event, saying, “I spoke about the current state of collaboration among social enterprises in Ireland today. This Forum is of huge importance as the ISBC will help organisations to collaborate and exchange and to build better relationships between social and commercial enterprises.”

ISBC is supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Regional Enterprise Development Fund and offers support to all establishments that reach out, whether they are an emerging business with a social impact, a support organisation, a researcher, someone involved in corporate social responsibility or simply interested in the sector.