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The Social Business Innovation Lab (SBI-LAB)
the Open Call 2023

Registrations are now open until January 15, 2024! Register your social business or your impact-driven startup now!

The Open call has five main goals:

  1. Pre-selecting social startups that will participate in the Investment Readiness and Pitching Program (IRPP) free of charge
  2. Selecting 5 social startups that participated in the IRPP to pitch in front of potential investors and facilitate their access to financing by giving them visibility at the Social Business Conference which will be held on May 23, 2024 in Lugano, Switzerland.
  3. Identifying high-potential social startups at local level that may become guests at the SBI-LAB in Lugano
  4. Engaging local and international stakeholders to expand the Social Business Ecosystem in Canton Ticino and the World through concrete commitments (mentoring, sponsoring one or more desks for social startups at the SBI-LAB, investing in a social startup)
  5. Contributing to the achievement of one or more UN SDGs

Open Call 2023 Timeline

  • September 11, 2023. – Open Call 2023 starts
  • Social entrepreneurs register using the form on Social Business Earth’s website.
  • January 15, 2024 – Registration closed
  • January 2024 – Pre-selection of social startups who will participate in the Investment Readiness Program, starting on Feb. 5.
  • February-March 2024 – Investment Readiness and Pitching Program
  • April 8-12, 2024 – Selection of high potential startups to pitch at the final event.
  • April 15-19, 2024 – Mock Pitching with Mentors
  • May 23, 2024 – Social Business Conference (SBC) 2024 and Pitch Day

Startups Eligibility and Profile

  1. Startup operates under one or more UN SDGs
  2. Applicant must be 18 years of age or older
  3. Startup has been established for at least 6 months and not more than 4 years.
  4. Startup has evidence of initial traction (at least a basic user/revenue report shown in the pitch deck).
  5. Submit a pitching video of max. 5 minutes.
  6. Apply via our registration form.
  7. Submit a pitching video with the following requirements:

-Video submission in the form of link (from Youtube, Google Drive, etc.)
-Video length: up to 5 minutes
-Make sure the speaker and the slides are visible and the audio is audible
-Pitching and pitch deck should be in English only

Criteria of Social Startup Pre-selection to Participate in Investment Readiness Program

1.Problem Statement
3.Business Model
How the business model works and generates revenues, type of product/service, capacity to be financially sustainable.
4.Impact (Social, Environmental and Financial) and SDGs
Short, medium and long-term impact of the social startup and how it contributes to achieving one or more SDGs. Explanation should provide specific SDG indicators.
Academic background, expertise, specific competence in the field, role in the startup, previous work experience, why is the person most suitable for the role
Technical and legal aspects, timeline, risks, SWOT analysis
7.Scalability and Replicability potential
Is the social startup scalable or replicable? What is your strategy for scaling up?
8.Innovation and Creativity
The ability of the social startup to propose new, original and unique solutions to challenges and problems that can translate into benefits and advantages, positively impacting the lives of individuals, communities and the environment.
Maturity refers to the date in which the principal balance of an investment/loan becomes due and payable. How many years will the social startup take to pay the investment back? Should provide a maturity plan.

Originality and Intellectual Property

  1. Participant represents and warrants that the social startup is and will be the participant’s or participant’s teams own original work and does not and will not infringe the intellectual property or proprietary rights of any third party, including, without limitation, any third-party patents, copyrights or trademarks. Should third parties nonetheless file a claim for the violation of their rights, and should such violation be the result of intentional or grossly negligent conduct of the participant, then the participant shall be liable for any and all damages.
  2. Entries may be subject to a due diligence review at any time for eligibility and compliance.
  3. All submissions remain the intellectual property of the individuals or teams that developed them. By registering, consenting to the terms of the Open Call 2023, the participant agrees that all materials (e.g. business plan, financial plan, pitch deck, etc.) of preselected startups will be made available to the organizers and, if selected among the top 8, to potential investors at the SBC 2024

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We welcome applications from startups that have been established at least 6 months prior to September 2023 and not more than 4 years prior to September 2023. The startups work to contribute to one or more UN SDGs. See our Open Call page for more details on eligibility.

We will contact you via email by the end of January 2024. So be sure to put the right email when applying!

The IRP will build skills and capacity to facilitate access to social finance investments. The program is tailored to each startup and covers different topics such as the main aspects of business planning, impact measurement, pitching techniques, speaking the language of investors and corporates, and more.

Professionals from the Social Business Innovation Lab and its network of partners and stakeholders.

2 months with 1-2 sessions every week.

Central European Time (CET), online via a platform to be confirmed (e.g. Zoom)

The IRPP sessions for the group will be recorded and you will be able to follow them online. The IRPP individual sessions will be organized directly with the social entrepreneur according to his/her availability.

You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to pitch your social startup to a group of potential investors. If you are a local social startup, based in Ticino or Switzerland, you will be entered into a draw to win a workstation at the Social Business Innovation Lab for a year with 10 hours of consulting free of charge. We are working to raise funds for a grant to give to the top three social startups.

You can bring tools/props and such for your presentation as long as they are not dangerous, oversized or causing potential damage to the event property.

Yes, but it will have to be live. No previously recorded pitches will be allowed.

No. The social entrepreneurs will have to cover their own travel and accommodation to Lugano. We are currently looking for sponsors for social entrepreneurs’ trips. If we manage to cover the costs we will let the social entrepreneurs know by April 2024.

Nothing specific, we recommend (business) casual dress code.

Both the IRPP and the Social Business Conference 2024 will be in English. All pitches must be in English.

 If you have any questions, please feel free to contact specifying in your subject line: Open Call 2023 – Question.