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National Community Mission Incubators

Communities need dedicated Mission Incubators that are the ‘backbone’ of inspiring, activating and incubating radical change towards their missions.

Community Mission Incubators are a key element of our approach. A community Mission Incubator team should be made up of at least 20-30 roles in order to cover the breadth of work and expertise needed. Budget is also needed for additional technical expertise and triggering small experimental actions. So, indicatively a Mission Incubator should be set up with an annual operating budget of around €5 million to give it a strong chance of success.

Viewed in context of the overall capital investment and social value that a community Mission Incubator team is tasked with catalysing and unlocking, this is a small, sensible and essential investment. However, in our experience communities initially struggle to make this investment on their own. Without proper investment in Mission Incubators, the opportunities and value of mission-led change keep being missed and lost. Therefore, this common investment and resourcing gap urgently needs to be filled.

While every community pursuing mission led change will need a locally-focussed Mission Incubator model in time, we believe a pragmatic starting point in SE Europe can be to also set up Mission Incubator teams at a national scale.

These national Mission Incubator teams can bring together a group of individuals that have leading capabilities and skills for supporting community processes of mission-led change. They can then deploy to help communities across the country where there is greatest demand and commitment to create radical change. The idea is that communities can apply for help, and the national team will embed with selected local communities to work with local teams. This role of ‘loaned’ support from the national team would then phase down as communities develop and secure a longer-term funding and resourcing model for their local Mission Incubators.

The national Mission Incubator model can therefore be a flexible and efficient way to help get a number of communities onto a mission-led pathway of radical change. Given that both funding and human capacity prove to be challenges for each community, first putting together a national team is a good way to share and maximise early resources. A national scale is generally suitable for this approach in SE Europe because countries are relatively small.

It will be even more critical for these national Mission Incubators to be carefully set up with a leadership and governance structure that ensures their independence and trust with the communities they work with. One of the big challenges we need to overcome in SE Europe is that entrenched models of central government funding, policy and governance are not yet supporting mission-led change in communities. So, the temptation to bolt national mission incubator models on to existing ministries or central government structures should be avoided. They have a much better chance of success if they are positioned as innovative new models that are co-governed with community networks and civil society.

We are establishing a Mission Incubators Match Fund to provide funding for community Mission Incubators. As part of this we are seeking partnerships at a national level to establish National Community Mission Incubators and appropriate linked investment.

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