This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

What does it take to tackle Scotland’s most pressing social challenge?

This opinion piece is about 1 year old

The Social Innovation Challenge funds and supports innovators to kick-start solutions that tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For 2023, the programme will focus on issues connected with the rising cost of living.

Rising fuel and energy costs. Increasing food prices. Worsening health outcomes and surging isolation. Stretched support services. Deepening inequalities.

The emerging cost of living crisis is not a singular issue. Instead, it is made up of several interconnected challenges that have all come to hit at a time when individual, community and societal resilience has already been eroded by a worldwide pandemic. While this is affecting us all, it has been well documented that those already at higher risk of poverty are now the worst affected.

Tackling the current situation is, therefore, equally complex. Systemic challenges require systemic change. Solutions must be ambitious, creative and developed alongside the communities they hope to serve. They also need to be sustainable and long-lasting.

This is why the 2023 edition of the Social Innovation Challenge, a programme that funds and supports innovators to kick-start solutions that tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time, will focus on issues connected with the rising cost of living. At Firstport, we believe that social enterprise is ideally placed to address such complex challenges, as by definition social enterprises are built around their social mission. They also tend to be resourceful and ambitious, often responding creatively to problems.

But approaching such complex challenges from a new angle takes time, effort, money and courage. So, the Social Innovation Challenge will award £50,000 and a tailored programme of support to an innovative project that has the potential to remove the deep-rooted obstacles that prevent individuals and communities from living fulfilling and dignified lives, particularly considering the current rising cost of living. The Social Innovation Challenge will specifically seek to enable highly innovative, ambitious and even potentially risky responses to these complex challenges.

From the 12th of April, we will invite applications from social enterprises, unincorporated groups, community associations or individuals with an idea for a new project. We also welcome and encourage applications from collaborations between different organisations. The key criteria will be centred on: innovation and relevance to the theme, the potential for delivery of direct social impact and income generation, sustainability, and community involvement in the solution’s design.

To learn more about the theme, or if you have an idea that might be eligible for this challenge, keep an eye on the Firstport website and social media. Expressions of interest will open on 12th April, and the application deadline will be Monday 31st July.

To speak to someone about this programme, get in touch with Carmen, the Firstport social innovation challenge programme manager, at

Firstport is Scotland’s agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Learn more about the Social Innovation Challenge by visiting the Firstport website.