A NEW ‘Impact Hub’ – the first in the North of England, has opened in Bradford’s historic Little Germany area.
The hubs bring together “social entrepreneurs” and Bradford’s version opened last week in the Grade II listed Design Exchange on Peckover Street.
A consortium led by local group 30 Chapel Street recently secured £6.6m to develop programmes to tackle inequality in the area through boosting the social economy.
The hub will help foster social innovation, enterprise, ideas incubation and business development, and will offer the areas aspiring entrepreneurs opportunities and space to collaborate.
Bradford is the third UK city with Impact Hub status, joining London, where there are hubs in Islington and Kings Cross, and Inverness.
It will give the city access to a global network of more than 100 Impact Hubs across 50 countries worldwide including Tokyo in Japan and San Francisco in the USA.
The local hub was first hinted at last year, referenced during a presentation on the Bradford District Economic Strategy.
The bid for Impact Hub status was led by its newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Kamran Rashid and co-founders Mandip Sahota and Imran Ali.
All Bradford-born, the team established 30 Chapel Street, a group that attracted major international events to the city, building a community of interest in innovation for social change. Working in partnership with organisations including TED, the Royal Society of Arts and Red Bull the group helped raise the profile of social enterprises in Bradford.
Kamran Rashid said: “We’ve been working towards bringing an Impact Hub to Bradford for more than three years and, as the world begins to emerge from the horrors and disruption of a global pandemic, the need to work differently, collaboratively, to change society for the better has never been more apparent.
“We’re excited to be introducing Bradford to an international network that uses the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as a lens through which to view our impact in the world. We want Impact Hub Bradford to be a hopeful element in the city’s recovery and a sustainable model for the future.”
Impact Hub Bradford will host a programme of events and offer services to social enterprises, microbusinesses, artists, performers, designers and makers who want to make a positive social impact.
These include helping to secure investment for social entrepreneurs and the wider city and the chance for collaborations across sectors including arts, healthcare and technology and coworking spaces, meeting rooms and event spaces.
Kamran added: “Impact Hub marks the next chapter in Bradford’s long history as a catalyst for social innovation. This is the city where Titus Salt created his workers’ village in the 1800s; where William Forster worked on the first national education legislation, and the city’s schools were the first to offer free meals to children. Research shows that young people want jobs that contribute to making the world a better place. We want to harness the voices of Bradford’s youthful population, building on the growing confidence in the city, to build social capital.”
Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council and a member of Impact Hub Bradford’s informal advisory board said: “Bradford teems with energy, enterprise and ambition.
“Entrepreneurial savvy, tech know-how and creative originality underpin a compelling vision that positions Bradford at the forefront of inclusive and sustainable innovation as we pursue our ambition to become the UK’s fastest growing economy. As part of Impact Hub’s global family, Impact Hub Bradford will connect the city to a world-wide network of change agents, disruptive technologies and original thinkers opening up new opportunities to exchange knowledge, join forces with social innovators and help deliver a better Bradford and a better world. The team at Impact Hub Bradford epitomise Bradford’s pioneering traditions, global outlook and social conscience and Impact Hub can only benefit from their presence.”
The first Impact Hub event, a digital launch, will take place on September 8.