Social Innovation Programme - Potential Partners
Become one of our SIP partners and let your organisation benefit from a team of student consultants for 6 weeks!
October-December and January-March each year (specific timings vary to fit University of Cambridge term dates)
The Social Innovation Programme (SIP)
The SIP is a consulting scheme for charities, social enterprises and start ups. Cambridge Hub will recruit, train and manage a team of students (on average teams of 4-6 people) who spend 6 weeks working on a consulting project based on a brief provided by you. The SIP is designed to bring about a dual-positive outcome: to support organisations to improve their outcomes for user groups by increasing their capacity and providing new perspectives, and to create students who have a greater awareness of social issues and have had the practical experience to create a tangible impact in the future.
We will be continuing the SIP at Cambridge University this year after five years of successful projects. We also benefit from the combined knowledge of past and present SIP programmes at Kingston University, Bristol University Imperial College London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Previous consultancy projects have covered everything from developing communications and marketing strategies, to diversifying income streams; from scaling up production to evaluating existing projects. The Cambridge Hub team will work with you to form your consultancy 'Challenge Brief' to be as effective as possible, enabling you to address the biggest challenges your organisation faces.
We have two rounds per year: October-December and January-March each year (specific timings vary to fit University of Cambridge term dates)
Why Should You Get Involved?
The increased pressure on third sector organisations to improve their efficiency and demonstrate their impact at a time of reduced funding has been problematic for many. Students are in an excellent position to support charities by adding capacity to existing projects and providing extra resources to spur new initiatives. Students can benefit your organisation through bringing a unique perspective and by using their specialised skills and knowledge.
Submitting a Challenge Brief
Organisations are required to provide a clear and detailed project brief. We can support you to design a brief to ensure that it is both challenging for the students, but also enables to contribute in a real and tangible way to your organisation. Student teams will then have six weeks to complete these briefs, and produce a report at the end of the process to highlight their findings and present their recommendations. Previous briefs have ranged from include designing an income diversification strategy to researching and developing a direct marketing strategy for a social enterprise. See FAQS to see what questions are included in the challenge brief.
Minimum Commitment Guidelines
We run a rigorous recruitment process for students and provide ongoing training to ensure that the advice and support that you receive is high-quality and relevant to your needs. Student teams will also be provided with ongoing support from Cambridge Hub staff to minimise the support needed from your organisation.
We have minimum standards for our partners to ensure both students and partners gain a valuable experience taking part in the SIP. These guidelines are below.
SIP partners will:
  • Attend the Launch and Closing Event
  • Keep in regular contact with your team (via a weekly face to face/phone call/Skype meeting)
  • Invite students to volunteer with you/visit your office at the start of the programme
  • Attempt to offer long-term volunteering and engagement opportunities in the aftermath of the programme, either for your team, or for other students
  • Provide students with feedback after the event
  • Provide feedback through our monitoring and evaluation scheme in the aftermath of the programme, and let us know how the SIP helps your venture or organisation to grow and flourish
If you have any questions about the guidelines please write to
Returnable Deposit System
We are introducing a £50 returnable deposit system for the SIP, to encourage you to adhere to our minimum standards, and to give you the opportunity (requested by many previous partners) to make a small donation to the Hub for the service provided. This will be returned in the event that you feel the work your team creates is not of a very high standard, or in cases where your organisation does not have sufficient funds to treat this as a donation to the Hub.
If you would like to discuss this further, please write to
Step 1: Producing a brief. We will work closely with you in order to develop your brief and ensure it is appropriate and manageable for the students.
Step 2: Student recruitment and training. Students must undergo a rigorous selection process in order to ensure their commitment to the scheme. They will then receive training sessions to cover key skills in the early stages.
Step 3: Launch event. All community partners and students participating in this SIP round will come together to launch the programme. You have a face-to-face meeting with your team so that they can ask any questions and get a grasp on the brief and your expectations. You and your team will then agree on a working timeline and the level of communication you will maintain.
Step 4: Weekly meetings. Throughout the programme, you keep in regular contact with your team (via a weekly face to face/phone call/Skype meeting).
Step 5: Closing event. All students and community partners come together to learn about the projects of this SIP round and to close the programme.
Step 6: Presentation and evaluation. Your team presents you their results and recommendations. The time and place for this meeting is agreed between your student team and you. Afterwards, we ask you for feedback on the programme to allow us to ensure that the SIP continues to have as positive an impact as possible.
Key Dates for Lent Term 2019
Mon, 21st January: Deadline for the final version of the Challenge Brief
Mon, 28th Janurary, 5:30-8:00pm: Launch Event
Tues, 12th March, 5:30pm-7:30pm: Closing Event
Previous Participants Have Said
I wanted to work on a project that would have an impact both at the time of volunteering and in the future. Therefore, the Social Innovation Programme was ideal because being able to work with a community partner in a consulting role meant that our efforts over the 6 weeks could potentially have lasting benefits for the business. Student Participant
I believe that SIP has significant social and project merit and the forging of relationships is really worthwhile. SIP Partner Organisation
Want to Get Involved?
If you are interested in being a SIP partner contact us at to register your interest and we'll be in touch shortly. Please be aware that our cohorts book up quickly, and that we aim to provide our students with a wide range of different challenges, so we cannot always guarantee you a place on the upcoming cohort. We have therefore started a 'waiting list' system. If your challenge is not accepted when you first apply, it will be given priority in the next round. When you apply for the programme, please let us know if your challenge will only be 'valid' for a given period, or if you are happy to offer it next autumn as well as this spring.
The Social Innovation Programme is sponsored and supported by the University of Cambridge Careers Service. Alt text
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