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Catch22 and Interserve win Business Impact Challenge

Big Society Capital has named the proposal from Catch22 and Interserve to develop the Public Services Lab as the winner of the Business Impact Challenge investment competition.

30 November 2015

Business Impact Challenge LogoCatch22 – in partnership with public service provider Interserve, and social finance experts Clubfinance – has been announced as the winner of Big Society Capital’s Business Impact Challenge.

In partnership with Big Society Capital, the three organisations will work together to create the Public Services Lab (The Lab), a joint venture social business that will enable community organisations, charities and social enterprises to deliver public service contracts at scale. The winning partnership will now progress through BSC’s investment process, at the same time as seeking sign off from Catch22’s and Interserve’s investment committees.

At the heart of the Lab will be an incubator to support social sector organisations in Liverpool to take a more central role in the delivery of public services, unlocking the capacity that exists within communities to drive change from within. They will also be able to access top quality back office functions, allowing them to punch above their weight to compete with the big private sector players for important public service contracts. The Lab will also support collaboration between VCSEs and stakeholders across public services to help create the right conditions for better public services, nurturing innovation and creativity in tackling social challenges.

The winner was chosen by an expert panel chaired by Lord Davies of Abersoch (former Chairman of Standard Chartered and Minister of State for Trade and Investment) and comprised of internet entrepreneur Baroness Lane Fox, Harvey McGrath (former Chairman of Prudential plc and Man Group plc), Ian Davis (former Managing Director of McKinsey & Co), Karen Lynch (CEO of Belu Water), The Economist journalist Matthew Bishop and Nick O’Donohoe (Chief Executive of Big Society Capital).

Chris Wright, CEO, Catch22, said:

‘The ultimate aim of the Public Services Lab is better outcomes for the users of public services. In the current financial climate, it is more important than ever for the voluntary, community, public and private sectors to come together to develop creative solutions to the challenges facing public services.

‘We’re delighted to have found forward-thinking partners to make this happen. Winning this competition enables all of us – Interserve, Clubfinance, Big Society Capital and Catch22 – to take the first step on this exciting journey. We know there is already huge appetite for this, welcoming what we hope will be a trailblazing indication of the future.’

Tim Haywood, Interserve’s Group Finance Director and Head of Sustainability, said:

‘We realised that the majority of voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) we came into contact with found it difficult to access funding and didn’t necessarily have the skills to bid for large public sector contracts.

‘Using the catalyst of increasing demand for public services and shrinking government budgets, we decided to build a business which would harness the best of the private and voluntary sectors; increasing the capabilities of the VCSE sector to deliver public services. We’re delighted to have won the Business Impact Challenge and are now eager to get to work to make this idea come to life.’

Lord Davies, who chairs the panel, said:

‘The Business Impact Challenge was established to really engage business and catalyse social investment in the private sector. We wanted to see ideas that would generate strong business and social value. The panel was very impressed by the innovative vision of the Interserve and Catch22 proposal. The amount of work and resources that have already been committed give us confidence that this proposal can be significantly transformative when launched.’

Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital, said:

‘This challenge has been a great opportunity for private companies to partner with charities and social enterprises and really explore how they can embed social outcomes into their business plans. We’ve been incredibly impressed not only by Interserve and Catch22, but also by the partnerships between Wates and Social and Sustainable Capital, and Asda and Social Investment Scotland. As such, we want to see the winner and both highly commended entries progress through our investment process and realise the enormous potential of their ideas.’

Further information

  • Find out more about the Business Impact Challenge
  • Contact Sarah Sinnott, Assistant Director – Partnerships, at for further information about the Public Services Lab