Heritage Impact Accelerator

The HIA team

Running concurrently with the Heritage Enterprise and Education Hub, the National Lottery Heritage Funded Heritage Impact Accelerator offered a 10-month incubator programme to two cohorts between 2021 and 2023. It aimed to build the capacity of 12 diverse local practitioners and/or organisations to deliver enhanced community heritage projects, develop new cultural and cross-sector partnerships and increase levels of contributed and earned income.

Inspired by the tech start-up model, the programme immersed participants in a university hothouse for entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary skills development. It accelerated and pushed practitioners to develop thriving community heritage projects and enterprises.

Heritage Impact Accelerator Offer

  • 2 x 10-months of training and development for two participant cohorts across two years
  • 3-phase programme designed to accelerate business models
  • £4,000 stipend for participants that supported living, training and project expenses.
  • Collaborative hothouse for ideas development through access to UoB archives and collections, published research and e-journals
  • Co-working sessions with community partners, students/graduates and academics relevant to their heritage, education and business specialisms
  • Opportunities to develop and submit competitive project grants, including to the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Programme Delivery Phases

Each Heritage Impact Accelerator cohort was guided across three phases:

Phase 1 – Training & Development

Intensive training and co-working programme delivered in response to a participant survey undertaken upon the successful recruitment of each cohort, which realises areas for development.

Participants accessed university and partner knowledge, archives and publications, as well research and teaching expertise that support development.

The end of this phase featured Accelerator Open Week (delivered online or physically dependent on COVID-19), which enabled participants to test and share new ideas and work-in-progress with industry, community and cultural sector/cross-sector professionals.

Phase 2 - Project & Partnership Enhancement

Based on Accelerator Open Week, participants scaled up ideas that had been founded in Phase 1. They connected to new local partners and delivered a robust pilot heritage outreach programme. Participants received support from the Culture and Community Engagement Team, LCEP projects team and the Collaborative Projects Team to consider robust methods of project management, delivery and evaluation.

Dependant on COVID-19 guidance, projects were delivered either physically or through the digital and remote methods supported by the Collaborative Projects Team as part of their UniConnect work.

Phase 3 - Bid Writing & Next Steps Support

Participants, in considering the impact of Phase 2 delivery, developed robust COVID-19 recovery plans, business plans, partnerships and models that further realised a step-change in strategic considerations, delivery and impact.

Finally, in considering next and future steps, participants were supported to develop exceptional funding applications that realised these new business, outreach and partnerships models, as well as ambitions for the future.

  • Develop a skilled, confident and resilient community of local heritage practitioners and organisations, evidenced through an increase in both the number and success rate of funding bids submitted.
  • Increase diverse representation within the heritage sector within Luton, evidenced by the recruitment of Accelerator participants
  • Successful partnership-working modelled and sustained between Luton-based heritage organisations and wider local sectors, evidenced through an increase in the number of collaborative partnership projects either in process or completed by the end of the project, with tangible examples of how partnerships have been made sustainable.
  • Support new sustainable relationships to be formed between Bedfordshire's cultural practitioners/organisations and UoB’s professional and academic staff, evidenced by the number of new partnerships between heritage and higher education.

  • 453 hours of 1-2-1 support provided to 12 Luton-based heritage practitioners seeking to develop their practice in the sector
  • Supported the development of 20 funding bids for projects led by Luton-based heritage practitioners
  • 6 new heritage CICs registered in Luton as a result of engagement with the Heritage Impact Accelerator programme
  • £388,022 of funding for heritage projects secured by Heritage Impact Accelerator participants
  • Supported the development of over 400 new connections between heritage practitioners and various local, national and international partners
  • 7 Heritage Impact Accelerator Participants supported to share their experiences and promote their practice at the Heritage Conversations Symposium

The final evaluation report for the Heritage Impact Accelerator and Heritage Enterprise Hub projects, produced by Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, can be downloaded here.

Download the Evaluation report [PDF]

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