Impact Hub King’s Cross

On my last day in London in April I made my way to another impact Hub – this time in King’s Cross. Established in 2007, it is one of the first hour in the now 1,000-member-strong Impact Hub network in London alone.

I met with Alessandro Palmieri who used to work as BENISI coordinators before joining Impact Hub as community engagement manager. Having visited with Hub Westminster two days prior, I couldn’t help but compare. Impact Hub King’s Cross is a three-storey open space with a cafe on the ground level. Again, I had to be buzzed in and walked into a very quiet co-working space that urged me to whisper as I approached Alessandro. It was crazy busy and we had trouble finding a place to sit down. Finally, we settled for the stairs in front of their glass-wall meeting room.

Impact Hub King's Cross

Impact Hub King’s Cross

Since their Educckate program had already finished we started chatting about their Fellowship For Longer Lives  program whose objective is to “create innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing society.”1) Together with AXA and Swiss Re Foundation, Impact Hub launched the Fellowship to enable entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to address the challenges increased life expectancy and demographic ageing. The Impact Hub Fellowship for Longer Lives, implemented in four different cities (Oaxaca, Milan, Madrid and London), nominated up to three initiatives for each city and awarded one of them with a one year fellowship, gaining access to seed funding, focused skill development, valuable networks and a stimulating workspace at Impact Hub. Impact Hub King’s Cross launched the London stream of the Impact Hub Fellowship for Longer Lives in January 2014.  The first price went to Speakset, a service to help older people video call doctors, family and friends. Since their  initial idea (awarded in 2014) Speakset has

  • secured £345K investment;
  • hired six new team members (sales);
  • improved the quality of hardware and software;
  • managed to break even – a sustainable business in three months time.

BENISI and Impact Hub Scaling

Impact Hub King’s Cross is also involved in BENISI and as of April 22nd, 2015, is part of the Impact Hub Scaling initiative as part of which eight Impact Hubs across Europe support up to 100 social enterprises to scale their across Europe using the Impact Hub network.

BENISI is a trans-European consortium that aims at building a Europe-wide network of incubators for social innovation, meaning new ideas, products, services or models that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social relationships or collaborations. “Social innovations are not only important for the new specific solutions to societal needs, but they can furthermore impact society’s capacity to innovate.”, explains Alessandro. BENISI aims at identifying 300 of the most promising, impact-ful and employment-generating social innovations with high potential for scaling successfully. The program provides them with support services tapping into its network of competent partners throughout Europe. BENISI is led by i-propeller and implemented by six Impact Hubs in Europe: Amsterdam, Bucharest, London King’s Cross, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna. In collaboration with: DIESIS (European Research and Development Service for the Social Economy), EURADA (European Association of Development Agencies), Fondazione Cariplo, and PEFONDES (European Network of Foundations for the Social Economy).

Impact Hub King's Cross - second floor

Impact Hub King’s Cross – second floor

Impact Hub Scaling is a programme that supports 100 social entrepreneurs to scale-up locally or internationally through eight Impact Hubs across Europe. Within one year, the selected social enterprises will work closely together with Scaling Managers located in Amsterdam, Athens, Bucharest, London, Madrid, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna. These expert mentors provide them with knowledge, skills, access to investor networks and advice throughout the program.

More recently, Impact Hub King’s Cross and the Presencing Institute offer U.Lab. which is a massive open online course (MOOC) on EdX offered by MIT. The twist of signing up for U.Lab at one of the 45+ Impact Hubs around the world is becoming an Impact Hub Connect member and working through the course with the local Impact Hub community. If you have ever taken a MOOC, chances are you have felt a bit isolated and lonely in your learning experience. Check out their Facebook group to get a feel for how the program is coming along.

As a member at Impact Hub King’s Cross you can take advantage of two acceleration programs as part of Impact Lab. In Take Off, idea-stage entrepreneurs receive three months of support in developing their business model and working through operational details like accounting, legal structure, communications etc. The five-months Fly High program is geared towards entrepreneurs that have been running their business for up to three years and are looking to build their capacity in all matters scaling (adapting the business model, increasing scales, financial forecasting etc.).


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