Partnership between Middlesex University (Social Policy Research Centre - SPRC) and Social Firms UK (SFUK)
Impact highlights: The KTP has developed an innovative online toolkit and resources to help grow the social firms sector, placing SFUK in a much more knowledgeable and effective position to provide advocacy, information, support, networking and partnership opportunities to social firms. It has supported a new strategic direction and enabled SFUK to develop skills that are essential to their future development.
Objectives: To investigate the characteristics and needs of social firms in the UK and to develop dedicated tools enabling SFUK to better understand, support, strengthen and grow the sector.
Results for the Company Partner
Social Firms UK InfoMine (http://www.socialfirmsinfomine.org.uk) is an online toolkit designed to help individual social firms to identify their information needs and get direct access to resources and support. The toolkit includes an online questionnaire which collects information about the firm's characteristics and the user needs and produces a bespoke report with information and links. Registered users can also search the database of resources, which will be kept up-to-date by SFUK with the support of members. SFUK will encourage members to use the toolkit regularly. In this way the information collected through InfoMine will also be used for mapping and monitoring of the sector, allowing SFUK to produce regular reports and enhancing its lobbying power.
InfoMine was developed as part of a broader strategy – including a revamped website and a stronger emphasis on the use of social media – which re-visions SFUK as a collaborative community of members sharing information and providing both voluntary and professional support to each other. Staff have been provided with training to maintain, update and expand InfoMine and to make better use of social media.
The impact of the KTP includes an enhanced ability to attract members and clients and – through a stronger online network – an improved capacity to promote and provide professional services such as mentoring, business advice, training and workshops – and will support applications for funding and evidence to influence policy makers and other stakeholders.
New knowledge and capabilities acquired by company and its staff acquired as a result of KTP: Moving towards web-based solutions has meant that the Supervisors' understanding of social media usage, web-design and manipulation have increased from a standing start. Partnership work with the academic partners has also provided a better understanding of research methods that can be used in future quantitative research into the sector.
Change in the Company's competitive position resulting from the KTP:
Results for the Knowledge Base Partner
Potentially high impact on research: