Search for Scotland's next generation of social innovators comes to Perth

September 1, 2017

The search for the next generation of Scottish social innovators is coming to Perth later this month.

Delivered by social enterprise agency Firstport, as part of the Scottish Government’s 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy, the Social Innovation Competition offers three £5000 prizes along with tailored business support to the most exciting, innovative ideas tackling social issues.

The Social Innovation Competition celebrates and supports individuals and start up companies in Scotland that are using their creativity and imagination to solve pressing social issues, focusing on culture, heritage and tourism as Scotland celebrates the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

The winners, including one young social innovator, will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Scottish Parliament in November and receive £5000 alongside support from Firstport, Scotland’s agency for start up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Anyone interested in entering can find out more at a free information and networking event held by Firstport at 7 St Leonard's Bank, Perth, PH2 8EB on Wednesday 13 September from 5.30pm to 8pm. Register by 9am Monday 11 September to secure your place.

Firstport has already worked with many Perthshire social innovators to help them get their ideas off the ground, including:

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “The Social Innovation Competition is an exciting opportunity for anyone developing a new product or service that is tackling a social issue to get recognition and support to move it forward. We hope people all over Scotland – including Perthshire - will realise and appreciate how social innovations have massively improved the way we live our lives and think about they can make a difference to their own communities”.

Applications for the Social Innovation Competition close on Monday 9 October. More information at


For more information, contact Carol Stewart or Jess Gray, 0131 558 2724.

Editor Notes


Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise. We offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections.

Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund. Firstport is also part of the Just Enterprise consortium, with responsibility for providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland.

In total, Firstport has supported over 800 budding social entrepreneurs and helped to create two new social enterprises every week. More information is available at

Social innovation

There are many definitions of social innovation, but in its broadest sense, we are looking for entries that show that their ideas (product, service or business model) offer new solutions to a social need, or address a need more effectively or efficiently than existing solutions. The winning entries will also be able to demonstrate that their ideas will lead to a better use of assets and resources, new relationships and/or collaborations amongst sectors and society.

Case study – The Workshop, Aberfeldy

Paul Parmenter - The Workshop

An experienced design and technology teacher who also worked in industry, Paul Parmenter set up The Workshop in Aberfeldy, Perthshire in June 2014 with funding and business support from Firstport.

Paul provides low-cost, high-quality solutions to his customers, who would otherwise struggle to find suppliers given the relative isolation of the area. He has worked on a range of projects in the local community, such as making signs for local businesses, laser-cutting medals for the local triathlon and making scenery for Pitlochry Festival Theatre. The enterprise’s social impact focuses mainly on young people who have struggled with mainstream education but also helps other people, including those with mental health issues and learning difficulties.

One notable success story is 16-year-old Connor, who was disengaged with school and started at The Workshop doing two days a week work experience. He proved such an asset to the business that Paul was able, with support from the YES fund and the YMCA, to offer him a positive destination which allowed the teenager to leave school.

Paul explained: “Connor came to us to do woodwork but I felt it was better that he tried everything. He made such a success of his first task – welding steel racking for a local events company – that he effectively paid for the first six months of his employment. He has been so enthusiastic and eager to learn.

Connor started off doing metalwork but has since learned other skills including joinery and laser-cutting and wants to pursue a career in welding. He said: "I was fed up with school. Coming to The Workshop has made such a difference. I had always wanted to do something hands on and see the results of the work first-hand. Coming here really hit the nail on the head. It showed me what coming to work was actually like and I now know what I want to do.”