Designing the Future in Malmö with SOCAP

Jake Benford is a Project Manager for the Bertelsmann Foundation’s  Future of Civil Society programme. He works closely with the SIAA team in establishing our European presence.

Last week we attended SOCAP’s “Designing the Future conference” in Malmö, Sweden. The event brought together more than 400 investors, entrepreneurs, government and civil society organisations  to pitch ideas about market-based solutions to social problems.

The workshops addressed some of key issues behind the creation of social capital markets, including how do we encourage more social businesses? How can we strengthen the ‘social ‘element of existing, ‘conventional’ businesses? And what exactly is ‘impact investing’ – does it, for instance, stretch to ‘finance first’ investments?

A highlight of the event was certainly the contribution of UK participants including Paul Cheng of SharedImpact, Joe Ludlow from Nesta, Martin Rich from Social Finance, Arthur Wood from Total Impact Advisors, and Geoff Burnand and Ben Metz , all of whom discussed the UK’s progress to date. The discussions covered the development of a secondary social investment market, ‘a key prerequisite for a strong and effective market’; to social impact bonds, dubbed an ‘innovation in public commissioning’ more than anything else; to a long-term vision for the social investment agenda, or ‘a world in which all investments are impact investments, based on risk, profit, and social impact’. Earlier in the day, Joe Hill also set out Unltd’s role in providing seed funding to social businesses still getting of the ground.

Though the number of attendees was not up to the standard of previous SOCAP events, it was well worth spending the three days in Malmö for anyone interested in social investment or innovation. You can catch up with the event’s highlights online here.

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