The Replication Challenge #London

How aspiring entrepreneurs got ready to replicate existing social enterprises to solve the borough’s biggest challenges!

“I’ve always wanted to do something for my community but didn’t really know what and how. This event helped me start a project that makes a lot of sense, as it’s reassuring to know it’s been successful elsewhere!”
"What an amazing experience! I learnt so much in such a short period of time, about myself, about others and about social impact. I’m forever grateful.”
“I got to learn more about the power of social replicating and collaborate with like-minded people. It’s been an awesome event!”

Those are some words of the participants who joined the Replication Challenge. As they embarked on this journey for three days, they discovered new ways of thinking and of being. It ignited the desire to become a social entrepreneur without reinventing the wheel.

The Replication Challenge took place in Islington, London, on Oct. 7-9th, 2022. It was hosted at Better Space* and run in partnership with the City, University of London and the Islington Council.

What was the event all about?

The Replication Challenge in London was a 3-day hackathon-style event, for aspiring social entrepreneurs to discover the best ideas of social enterprises and replicate one of them to solve a local problem. How did it go?


It all started with the kick-off session where - among others - Caroline Wilson, Director for Inclusive Economy and Jobs at the Islington Council, presented the social and environmental problems to be solved in Islington. It gave the participants a deep understanding of the local reality and the challenges they could solve.


On the first day of the event, the participants discovered social enterprises that have solved issues similar to the ones faced in Islington. A total of 33 initiatives were presented for participants to get inspired and potentially choose one to replicate locally.

It ranged from solutions in the fields of environment (Climate awareness, Oceans, Agriculture, Food waste, Circular economy, Sustainable Tourism, Mobility…), social inclusion and poverty (homelessness, elderly, migrants, disabilities, housing, mental health) and education (for kids, adults, etc.)


As important as the project itself are the people who form a team together. So, on the first day, a big emphasis was put on creating the right teams. From ice breakers to bingo games to collective introspection exercises and deeper discussions, the participants could not only see with whom they had a

real human fit but also with whom they felt aligned in terms of vision, values and field they wanted to work in. After having exchanged their aspirations, ideas and ambitions, the teams were formed by the end of the first day!


After the teams were formed and participants’ ideas were sparked with the Solutions Museum, it was time to confront their plans with the local reality! So on the second day, participants had to validate whether the social enterprise they planned to replicate was the most relevant answer to the identified local problem. From interviewing people to mapping the ecosystem to understanding what really is the root cause of the problem, participants for sure had an active day!

In-depth workshops were also delivered at the beginning of the day for participants to get the tips & tricks to run a thorough market study & replication assessment. Topics such as “What makes a social enterprise a social enterprise - what do they do differently”, “what is a hybrid business model” or “what to be careful about when you replicate an existing solution” were presented and discussed.

What were the outcomes?

On the final day, the teams presented their projects in front of a judging panel who’d assess the teams on the following 5 criteria: impact, desirability, feasibility, viability and execution.

We were honoured to have in our judging panel:

  • Caroline Wilson, Director for Inclusive Economy and Jobs at the Islington Council

  • Amir Rizwan, Investor Relations Director at Big Society Capital

  • Ralph La Fontaine, Head of Entrepreneurship at City, University of London

We were extremely happy to see very qualitative teams pitching their projects on the final day. We were impressed by the depth of their analysis despite the short period of time and the strong teams they’ve built!

The winning teams were the following:

  • First prize: Level Up

Bahlla, Mohamed and Shash identified a huge social issue related to the Gig Economy and created Level-Up. Level-Up aims to connect gig workers seeking full-time employment with the tools they need to do so. It was inspired by the Austrian social enterprise MTOP (More Than One Perspective), which designs programmes for refugees and third-world nationals to access employment opportunities. Level-Up aims to create an associates’ programme of activities designed to get people from gig work into full-time jobs, providing them with a network of support and guidance.

They won the first prize, receiving £1000 grants to kickstart their project, were granted access to a coworking space for free for 1 month and will get a mentoring session with the founder of MTOP, to help them get started but not from scratch. They also won a year subscription to the Pioneers Post, the independent news network and storytelling platform for the global impact community covering social enterprise, impact investment and purpose-led business around the world.

  • Ex-aequo Second Prize: Jamba UK - Carbonic


Varsha, Mohit and Jojo got together to solve the problems disabled people face in Islington. Indeed, they found disabled people represent 17% of the population in Islington and 49% of them are economically inactive - among which the ethnic minorities are largely represented.

Hence, they wanted to make it easier for disabled people to get guidance on job opportunities and help them get one that is suited for them.

It turns out, Jamba, a social enterprise from Bulgaria displayed in the Solutions Museum, has been doing exactly that for several years. So they pitched the idea to replicate this project in Islington. Their promising market study, strong team and strategic thoughts to implement it led them to win the second prize in this competition.

They received £250 funding, were granted access to a coworking space for free for 1 month and will get a mentoring session with the founder of Jamba, to help them get started but not from scratch.


More than 84% of carbon emissions in Islington are coming from Buildings, in which half of its are council homes and business premises, rest is private. Because of these, Islington council face a lack of direct control. How to solve this problem? How can we mitigate the transition risk caused by small SMEs who are unaware of what's happening around them? How can we manage Energy efficiency in small households who are unaware?

Arif and Asheer created the Carbonic Project to solve this problem, which goal is to help SMEs Track and Mitigate their carbon emissions. They demonstrated strong data and their complementary skills and experiences got them to win the second prize in this competition. Congratulations!

Interested in hosting a Replication Challenge in your city?

We were really glad to host the Replication Challenge for Islington residents from all walks of life as well as students from different universities.

Would you like to have more details? Would you like to co-host one in your city? Send your inquiry here: