Support to help entrepreneurs grasp the opportunities post-Brexit

Social and environmental impact ventures based in the eastern region were today urged to view the EU referendum results as an opportunity and not just a challenge. The message came as a new free-to-access programme of skills, advice and support was launched by Allia, an organisation that creates social impact through enterprise.


Local impact ventures to benefit from a new programme of skills, advice and guidance
Called Serious Impact, the five-channel programme is open to any individual or organisation that aims to provide social and environmental impact, whether a pre-start, start-up or SME and regardless of the business model and structure.
It will deliver support to inspire entrepreneurship, drive growth and create sustainable ventures in sectors such as AgriTech, SocialTech and CleanTech, which aim to help solve social and environmental problems from climate change to food poverty to the issues faced by our older population. It will operate from Allia’s Future Business Centres in Cambridge and Peterborough and has received £1.7m of investment. (Please see below for more details).
Caroline Hyde, director of workspace and enterprise support at Allia, says: “Entrepreneurs flourish in times of uncertainty and change. This is because people are more open to new ideas, technologies and ways of working than they are when the economy is stable. While Brexit will undoubtedly mean a period of uncertainty for everyone, we also believe it is possible for local impact ventures to create positives out of the negatives. Serious Impact will help entrepreneurs to understand and prepare for all of the challenges and opportunities of running successful ventures, including those that will arise out of Brexit.”
Since 2013 Allia has supported 400 potential entrepreneurs, start-ups and early stage social and environmental impact ventures, which in turn have created 240 new jobs. Many of these ventures are flourishing; winning awards and investment whilst also creating the impact they intended.
However, impact entrepreneurs starting up or growing ventures also face the same sort of challenges as other start-ups and early-stage businesses, such as how to generate revenue, how to protect ideas and how to make the organisation sustainable. When combined with the uncertainty and changes associated with Brexit, now more than ever these ventures need support.
Caroline Hyde continues: “Serious Impact is the evolution of Allia’s combined experience and knowledge to date, and represents a significant opportunity for impact ventures to access the support needed to achieve long-term success and sustainability. We are really excited to be launching this new programme of support today and we look forward to working with many more entrepreneurs across the region.”

Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, says: "Allia's Future Business Centres in Cambridge and Peterborough are already contributing a great deal to our local area by helping social and environmental ventures address the challenges they face. The high-quality free advice and more offered via the Serious Impact programme means that local entrepreneurs will be equipped to cope with the issues or changes that Brexit will throw at them, whatever they may be.”
What is Allia?
Allia creates social impact through enterprise. It does this by providing access to finance, workspace and practical support to social and environmental businesses and charities, and by stimulating new ideas and collaborations among organisations that aim to address social challenges.
What is the Future Business Centre?
Allia’s Future Business Centres provide space, mentoring, skills-training and entrepreneurial inspiration for start-ups, early stage businesses and future business leaders who want to make a positive impact. There are currently Future Business Centres in Cambridge and Peterborough.
What type of ventures does Allia support?
Allia supports ventures that create social and/or environmental impact. Since 2013, 400 social ventures have been supported leading to the creation of 240 new jobs. Examples of success stories supported by Allia include:

  • Cambridge Bio Augmentation Systems, enabling the future of bionic prosthetics
  • COHEAT, a smart energy network that reduces both costs and carbon emissions
  • The Dowsing Sound Collective, an eclectic choir that helps people through music
  • AgriInsight, which provides data insight for farmers and agri-businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • More case studies are available upon request.

What is Serious Impact?
Serious Impact is a £1.7m five-channel programme of training and support aimed specifically at impact entrepreneurs and ventures within the Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough LEP area. Impact entrepreneurs and ventures seek to achieve a double bottom line – a financial return and social/environmental impact – from their activities.
What does the Serious Impact programme contain?
Serious Impact provides a holistic pathway for aspiring and current venture owners, which supports them on a journey through entrepreneurship. It is structured as a five-channel process:

  • Channel one begins with workshops to inspire, draw out and develop the business ideas.
  • Channel two helps people test and validate their idea over a 60-day programme.
  • Channel three is structured acceleration over three months which helps entrepreneurs understand key business concepts, develop their business and financial plans, and prepares them to progress with their new impact venture.
  • Channel four structured “incubation” over nine months provides key resources for promising and growing ventures including free incubator workspace, mentoring and access to connections and networks.          
  • Channel five is a unique, new, high spec Innovation Lab in the Peterborough Future Business Centre offering rapid prototyping, creation and testing facilities for engineers, technology ventures and product designers exclusively for those enrolled on the programme.

There will also be a focus on removing barriers to entry, particularly within specific social groups, such as women and migrants, and regions of the Greater Cambridgeshire/Greater Peterborough LEP area, such as Peterborough, King's Lynn and Wisbeach, that have in the past experienced high numbers of low-pay, low-skills and low-employment.
What does Serious Impact aim to do?
Serious Impact aims to grow the number of impact entrepreneurs and ventures across the region; reduce the failure rate of those that are launched; help create sustainable employment and support underrepresented groups.

How much does it cost to participate?
Serious Impact is free to access. There is a small fee to use the Innovation Lab of £30 per month.
Who has invested the money to fund this programme?
The £1.7m of investment has come from a mix of sources including the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Peterborough City Council and Allia itself.
Where can I find out more?
You can find out more here:

For interviews and access to case studies, please contact Tom Collinge at Slack Communications at or on 07850 400 096. 


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