Frequently asked questions

  • OBSEA, the Oxford Brookes Social Entrepreneur Awards, is a national award winning programme for students, staff and recent graduates, who are interested in social enterprise or social innovation or who wish to set up and run a social enterprise. It’s about developing real world solutions to social problems, but also about developing your career skills and boosting your employment opportunities. You will receive a 12 month programme of comprehensive training and mentoring in order to develop your interest, idea, project or social enterprise - and you can pitch for a cash award to help you deliver or improve your idea.

    There are two strands to OBSEA. They are:

    Social Entrepreneurship -  Social entrepreneurship is about using proven business techniques and approaches to address social and environmental problems and where profit is used to help to solve the issues. This is aimed at individuals in the main who wish to work on their project and get it off the ground.

    Social Innovation -  Social innovation is about finding radical new ideas, practical solutions and relationships to effectively address social needs and problems. This element is aimed at small interdisciplinary teams who want to work together to develop an innovative project for social good.

    No but you may be at a disadvantage if you do not register your interest and attend some of the sessions as they are important and will help you if you are applying for an Award.
    We offer a learning support programme which runs over two semesters and is designed to help you develop both the skills and background knowledge that you need to develop your project. You can download the current programme here. Additionally we are able to offer a mentoring support programme to Award holders which is designed to give them specialist 1:1 support. Details of the mentoring programme are available here.

    We have two levels of Awards:

    • Try It Awards – support and up to £500 of funding

    • Do It Awards – support and up to £5,000 of funding

    Each award is different and is tailored to the different stages in a changemaker's journey.

    Try It Awards –  offer small amounts of funding of up to £500, for individuals or small groups to try out their ideas. This might mean finding out if their idea is viable, learning more about what is needed and trying the project on a small scale first.

    The Award provides an opportunity for individuals and small groups not yet used to managing large sums of money or planning larger projects to take the first steps towards starting their own project and gaining the skills needed to run it. The funding enables individuals to progress at their own pace with the right support to develop the entrepreneurial or critical thinking skills they will require to, in some cases, take on larger projects or to pursue a career in social enterprise.

    Do It Awards –  are for up to £5,000, with an average Award size of £3,000 allowing individuals or small groups to grow an entrepreneurial or innovative idea. Do It Awards are for individuals and small groups that are confident their project will work and have the basic skills to do it. Award Winners who have completed Try It Awards may now feel confident enough and have honed their ideas to be able to develop their project.

    Other people may come straight in at this level as they demonstrate they have the energy and skills to take forward an idea that has some project planning already in place.

    Applying is quite simple and the details are available at Apply for An Award. Applications are open from January and more details and the relevant forms will be open then.

    You can only receive the same level of Award, for the same project, once. However, you can apply for a higher level of Award, e.g. you can progress from a Try It Award to a Do It Award, showing that with the right support and funding you can move your project on. You can also apply for a second award of the same level for a different project.

    Your Do It application does not have to be for the same project as a previous Award. You can apply with a different project as long as it meets the criteria of that Award.

    Whilst we are encouraging people to use the Try It Awards to test themselves and their ideas, we know some people are ready to go straight for a package of support and larger Award amount. We will explore this with you when you first contact us about your idea.
    Normally we make a one-off payment for Try It Awards. For other Award levels, we make payments in instalments during the course of the Award period via BACS transfer. In most cases we will pay the funding into your bank account.

    Before you receive an Award payment you will be required to sign a terms and conditions document which sets out your responsibilities.

    We expect you to use the Award for the purpose that it was made and behave responsibly. We will ask you to give us an update from time to time and sessions will be held to monitor your progress and give you advice.

    We do ask that you help us to publicise this programme and events are held from time to time that we invite you to attend and participate in.

    We require that you produce an impact report one year after you receive the award which records the progress of your project and what you personally learned from this process.

    All Award Winners are generally offered a 12 month support package following their award. However, we realise that sometimes things take longer and we can negotiate with you as you begin implementing your idea.
    Yes, we do not have any funding restrictions in place with regards to other funding feeding into your project.
    Yes, we encourage individuals to apply. However, remember to think about what kind of support you might need from other people to run the activities of your project.
    Yes, all you need to do is select one of the group members to be the 'lead individual' on the Application form. This is the person who will act as the main contact and who will receive the Award payments.
    If you have graduated within the last 24 months you can apply for a Try It or Do It award.
    If you are already an established business or a registered group you are not eligible for a Try It Award. If you are in the early stages of development and yet to start trading or you have begun trading on a small scale, you may be eligible for a Do It Award.
    Yes. If you are unsuccessful we would encourage you to contact your Faculty Champion or the project co-ordinator above, who will help you to understand why your application was unsuccessful so that you can work towards a successful application.
    We are not able to support course or curriculum development. We do aim to encourage ideas that may emerge from developments in the curriculum which could be turned into practical action to start a new business or address a particular social issue.
    Only students, staff or recent graduates (within 24 months) of Oxford Brookes University can make an application for an Award. Other members of the organising group that do not fall within this criteria can still be involved in the delivery but would not be eligible to apply in their own right.
    Projects can now benefit people and communities in the UK or elsewhere in the world. 
    It is perfectly reasonable for this to be part of a Try it Award project. For Do It awards the need should already be evident and demand established by prior (market) research. All proposals must have an activity, product or service that will be delivered and the feasibility of being able to deliver these should be established.
    No, it doesn't need to be related to their area of academic study but it should be linked to and certainly not conflict with the wider interests of Oxford Brookes University.
    The Awards are made to individuals and are for projects that are intended to address identified social problems, rather than to fund the generic work of a student group. However an individual or small group (up to three people) may be able to apply to develop a project that has been inspired by their involvement with a student society.