New digital technology that could revolutionise the cinema industry in the UK is expected to launch by early 2016. ‘Open Cinema’ is designing an App that will bring film clubs into every community.
This tech entrepreneurs are being supported by the Dotforge Impact Accelerator programme, which fosters new transformational tech projects in the UK.
The accelerator programme brings together a unique partnership between: Dotforge – a commercial accelerator for tech-driven companies, Key Fund – the biggest regionally based social investor operating across the North of England, and The RSA – the globally recognised organisation which is catalysing social impact through their international fellowship.
With over £1 million in funding from the Social Incubator Fund which is managed by the Big Lottery Fund for the Office for Civil Society, Cabinet Office, Dotforge Impact is running two accelerator programmes in 2015.
Sam Tarff, CEO of Key Fund, said: “Key Fund has over a decades’ experience creating successful Social Enterprises across the North of England, and we’re passionate about tapping into the power of technology and emerging tech entrepreneurs to use digital innovations for lasting and positive social impact.”
Open Cinema is building a digital suite of services available as an app which will include the ability to choose from their vast library of films, as well as curating film seasons, making posters and printing tickets to see for film clubs up and down the country, whether in a school hall, after-work club or any community group that might be interested.
Christoph Warrack, Chief Executive at Open Cinema, said: “Every room with a projector can be a cinema. Any group can set one up, whether it’s in an office after hours, in a community centre, or just in a bar. What we’re trying to do is the bridge the gap between the home cinema and high street chains.”
Christoph launched his original project in 2005, helping disenfranchised communities including the homeless to feel more connected by setting up and running film clubs in hostels and community centres in London, Sheffield, Dublin and more. Christoph was inspired to start the project after working with the homeless in Central London. The project grew quickly and spread nationally.
Christoph said: “We originally started out bringing cinema to those most in need, helping to create a place for people who had nowhere to go where they could be free to be themselves, enjoy films and have lively post-film discussions. The project has been wonderful for helping people to come out of their shells and into contact with mainstream society. Taking this one step further and bringing this open digital platform to everyone is the next logical step.”
He added: “Communities often disintegrate in the modern era, with people more likely to spend time with their friends on social media than to actually get out and meet people who live down the road or across the street from them. Cinema is a wonderful way to get people talking. Everyone can relate to talking about a film that they love. It’s often a great way to get into a conversation with people that you are getting to know. Open Cinema is a tool that helps bring people together, getting them to feel included, providing cultural education and a sustainable project that can help foster a sense of togetherness in any community.”
Emily Hill, Programmes Coordinator at Dotforge Impact, said: “The first Open Cinema film screenings brought homeless people together in Soho Square with volunteers, visiting filmmakers and its host charity. They’re now looking to use tech to reach more people and make it possible for any space- from Church Halls to conference rooms – to become an Open Cinema. The broader agenda is for Open Cinema to use film as an active tool to connect even more vulnerable individuals with their local communities.”
Emily added: “We are going to help the teams in the accelerator programme build their business relations, grow their customer base and networks, including investors’. In partnership with the Key Fund and The RSA we will be focusing our teams on solving the real issues in our world today by ensuring that they work alongside their customers as they develop. Our world-class mentor community will be on hand throughout the whole programme offering the teams their industry-relevant insight and expertise.”
Applications are now open for the second accelerator programme which commences in October 2015; applicants will receive £30,000 convertible investment with access to further funds following successful development of their enterprise.
For more information please contact:
Emily Hill, Dotforge Impact
Dotforge: Dotforge is a commercial, three month accelerator for early stage software companies. The programme is delivered by Traction Central Ltd a company established by local entrepreneurs in Sheffield to support up and coming new businesses. The programme structure is based on similar models developed in the USA which provide early stage teams with access to small amounts of investment, mentoring by local, national and international business leaders to fast track technology businesses to investment and growth, including:
- Pre-Seed investment of £30,000
- Free office space in Sheffield
- Extensive access to mentors and networks across the UK
- Fast-track access to key decision makers in the public, private and third-sectors
- Support from a range of globally influential business and technology partners
After the initial three months, ventures will have access to a further six months of resources to help them scale their ventures, including office space, fund raising and sales support and access to a further investment pot of £500,000 to support further growth over a two year plus period.
Traction Central: Established in 2013 by local entrepreneurs who recognise the need to establish the right ingredients to support scalable, global tech businesses in the North of England. Working with partners in Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, Traction Central is working to establish a range of accelerators in each city to support early stage tech companies.
Key Fund – Background
South Yorkshire was facing a grim future with the downturn in the steel and coal industries and the scourge of long-term unemployment was a black cloud over its future. In 1999 the Key Fund was born by a group of entrepreneurs from Locality (formerly the DTA, South Yorkshire Community Foundation) and the Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit.
They pooled their experience and skills from working in the Third Sector with a philanthropic impulse to meet the glaring needs of budding social enterprises and community organisations.
In 2002, the Key Fund escaped a culture dependant on grants and made its first loan.
Their objective remains the same as it did when it began: to remove the barriers within society and the financial markets that help propagate poverty and disadvantage.
Key Fund – Today
Today, the Key Fund is a market leader in innovation recognising the nature and environment within which social businesses operate, namely; disadvantage and market failure.
Based in Sheffield, Key Fund is the UK’s biggest regional investor in the social economy that covers the North of England.
Key Fund is itself a social economy success story. As a social enterprise, all of the returns received to the Key Fund are reinvested back into the sector.
Key Fund now helps shape new kinds of industry, from delivering public sector services to new IT and digital industry – all of which have Social Impact at their heart.
To date Key Fund has helped over 2,200 organisations and invested over £33m in the social enterprise sector.
Key Fund has recently had a series of ground-breaking national collaborations delivering loan funds, including the Office for Civil Society within the Cabinet Office, the Big Lottery Fund, ERDF and the Arts Council for England.
Its mission is to:
- Create and sustain jobs
- Invest in disadvantaged areas
- Support new start enterprises
- Support disadvantaged groups
- Sustain enterprises