iSE | Impact Investing for Place Report

This year, as part of CITYDRIVE 2019, iSE held Impact Investing for Place, an event considering new trends in place-based social investment and social economy development.




The event was kindly sponsored by Big Society Capital, chaired by its Social Sector Engagement Director, Melanie Mills, and hosted by Anthony Collins Solicitors.

Place-based investment for outcomes and impact is an idea that is gaining ground in financial circles, social enterprise support, economic development and with policy-makers and public authorities.

But this event marked a first for Birmingham. It is the first time that key players with an interest in local impact investing in the city have come together to learn more about local impact investing and consider the role that ‘impact investment’ could play in the city and what can be done to align investment.

The CITYDRIVE audience heard keynote presentations from an expert panel consisting of the following speakers:

– Clare Spencer, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Senior Policy Advisor – Public Services and Inclusive Growth

-Grace England, Resonance, Social Investor

-Joel Blake OBE, GBSLEP, Executive Officer for Growing Businesses

-Dr Steve Walker, Art Business Loans, CEO

-Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities

These presentations were followed by more open discussion.


Place-based Investment

While the dominant model of place-based social investing is currently the Local Impact Fund (LIF), the meeting concluded that there are opportunities for Birmingham to take a different approach – it doesn’t have to be all abut financial investment. Place-based investing for impact should also consider existing opportunities where social value and community benefit or (certainly should) be amongst the outcomes – whether in public service commissioning, major public works such as HS2, or major sports or cultural initiatives such as the 2022 Commonwealth Games.


Impact Investing for Place Report

The Impact Investing for Place Report presents findings of the event and recommends that some kind of place-based investment framework is needed for Birmingham and considers whether this might be done in the context of the Social Enterprise City.

It also recommends that place-based investment needs to be incorporated into support and development priorities for the social enterprise sector and wider social economy — and that this must be about more than just developing “pipelines of deals”, as has tended to be the primary concern of finance providers to date. There should also be a focus more on:

-Raising awareness and understanding of social finance

-Helping social enterprises build their evidence-base of social value and impact and better articulate their social and commercial impact

-Trading and sustainability

-Developing some targeted social investment funds e.g. Commonwealth Games or geographically-based

-Raising awareness of ‘development time’ when moving into a new place

-Using social investment to help lock wealth into places and support initiative that address poverty and homelessness.

You can read the full report of the proceedings here:

Impact Investing for Place Report