Lisa Edge: Pioneering Inclusive Innovation for a Better World

Meet Lisa Edge, the visionary CEO of GB Shared, a network of sharing platforms revolutionising the north of England encompassing nine counties including Lancashire, Manchester, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Merseyside and most recently expanding to the North-East. GB Shared offers the UK's first sustainable marketplace. But what does that mean exactly?

GB Shared is a digital hub connecting businesses, microbusinesses, and the entire community. It began when Lisa started asking the right questions: How can we tap into local resources? Where can we find graduates? Why aren’t we working collaboratively? These questions sparked a movement towards inclusive innovation.

Lancashare, the flagship platform, provides a central point for the county of Lancashire, offering access to tenders, news, jobs, information about events and networking opportunities. Within a year, they became multi-award winners, transforming the business landscape and the platform spread to four counties and the northeast.

Inclusivity lies at the heart of GB Shared’s mission. They believe that everyone should have equal access to resources, regardless of their background. As a member, businesses gain valuable insights to inform their strategies and track their progress. The platform acts as a tender portal, saving thousands in costs. But GB Shared’s impact extends beyond financial benefits, as Lisa explains:

“Inclusive innovation is the key to a brighter, more equitable future – a world where we recognize that we’re all in this together, regardless of our differences.

And we are not chasing income, we’re chasing impact. If it doesn’t have an impact, we don’t do it”

The impact of supporting employment and sustainability through innovative business collaboration is also reflected in Lisa’s recent success in winning the Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award 2023.

Reducing unemployment, stimulating the local economy and being more sustainable are fundamental to GB Shared’s vision. Inclusive innovation requires looking around, collaborating, and finding alternative doors when others seem closed. As Lisa says:

“I don’t see barriers. If you can’t find a way in, find another door”.

It encompasses fostering progress, supporting sustainability, and promoting unity in a diverse society. Lisa believes in leading by example, providing social value, and creating a business model that encourages connection and collaboration.

“Convincing stakeholders is the most difficult part. They can be quick to close the door and not share the vision for collaboration”.

For Lisa, inclusive innovation goes beyond economic metrics. It encompasses spreading social value by connecting businesses with charities and providing vital support to young people. In the wake of the pandemic, many young individuals found themselves adrift, lacking guidance and opportunities. GB Shared stepped in, facilitating partnerships between businesses and offering career advice, internships, and mental health support.

“It’s all about equality and a united society, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, irrespective of their background. And it is about putting a message out that we are all in one society, it doesn’t matter what race, religion, background, or planet we come from, we are all here now”

And to those considering the Northern Power Women Inclusive Innovation award, Lisa offers this advice:

“Don’t wait to be the winner, being shortlisted is something to be shouted about”.

Connected Places Catapult is sponsoring the Inclusive Innovation Award at the 2024 Northern Power Women Awards. Nominations are open until 4 October 2023.