The ProVen VCTs have led a £3m investment in Commonplace, a leading digital platform for community engagement
The ProVen VCTs have led a £3m investment in Commonplace, a leading digital platform for community engagement. The business is now set for rapid expansion to enable the public to work alongside local authorities and developers to help shape neighbourhoods, unlocking economic growth as the country emerges from lockdown.
The Series A investment will underpin Commonplace’s important UK expansion. Whilst small and medium size businesses are struggling with the consequences of Covid19, Commonplace is set to double its workforce in the coming year.
As the UK’s leading online consultation platform, Commonplace ensures that councils and developers can continue to carry out vital public engagement ahead of application submissions throughout the pandemic, and is working with developers including TFL, Delancey and Grosvenor.
Commonplace's rapid expansion comes at a key moment in the UK economy, with the Government having identified the housing and infrastructure sectors as key to the nation's recovery from COVID-19. With further reforms to the planning system being trailed by Government in the weeks ahead and a sharp focus will remain on the industry's ability to restore trust and confidence in housing delivery and placemaking in the coming years.
The digital platform has now worked with over 70 local authorities across the UK. It has recently been supporting councils to engage the public on proposals to increase active travel and respond to social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of the Government's £2bn cycling and walking funding boost.
Commonplace is already used by HS2, Sustrans, a number of the country’s largest property developers and owners including Lendlease and Landsec, as well as local community groups.
This round of funding will be used by Commonplace to create jobs in its development, sales and marketing teams, and further strengthen its platform to support the digital needs of local communities, authorities and developers.
Commonplace fosters diverse and representative conversations. Three quarters of people who have participated in a Commonplace conversation are under the age of 45, an age group which is often hard to reach.
Specifically designed to turn combative conversations into collaborative conversations, 65 per cent of people engaged through Commonplace express positive support for plans and proposals. Nearly one and a half million people to-date have engaged with more than 400 projects using Commonplace from Lambeth to Leeds, Greenwich to Glasgow.
Mike Saunders, co-founder and CEO of Commonplace, commented: "It is vital that people are connected to the place they live, work or play, and are able to have a constructive voice in the developments and projects shaping these places.
"This round of investment will enable us to engage millions more people as councils, developers and the government seek to address housing shortages and the pressing need for infrastructure. I’m delighted that we will be expanding our brilliant and committed team to meet this exciting challenge."
Eyal Malinger, Investment Director at Beringea, manager of the ProVen VCTs, commented: "Commonplace has built a product that will be pivotal to enabling development of much needed housing, infrastructure and commercial projects in a world being transformed by the impact of COVID-19.
"Through fostering collaboration between local people, authorities and developers, Commonplace will create a dialogue about how we can adapt neighbourhoods for the better, creating safety and economic prosperity in the process."
Pam Alexander OBE, Chair of Commonplace, commented: "With almost one and a half million people already using Commonplace to engage with more than 400 conversations about places they care for, we have already demonstrated the real desire from digitally connected communities to be engaged in constructive dialogue.
"It is even more vital now as we all try to shape a better future for our towns and cities to support health and well-being in our built environment, public spaces and transport infrastructure in the new normal. I am delighted that this investment is enabling us to treble our team and expand our offer to customers at a time when we know many SMEs are fighting to survive."
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Find out more about the ProVen VCTs’ annual shareholder event, which featured insights from Beringea, the investment manager, the boards of the two funds, as well as several of the companies from the portfolio
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