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Empowering Incubators: Paul Belknap explores Pollinate Impact’s Strategies & Opportunities

“Gathering metrics that funders care about is a key part of actually being able to raise funding”- Paul Belknap

Find out what Paul Belknap, Director of Impact Investing at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, has to say about the membership benefits at Pollinate Impact and what he finds the most exciting about this network.

What do you find the most exciting about Pollinate Impact?
I’m really excited that talent is one of our core strategies. The challenges in attracting and retaining top talent in the sector are well known, but efforts to date really haven’t meaningfully improved the situation. During the development of Pollinate, talent has been a central topic, and I’m optimistic that our strategies around talent support will start to really change things.
In your opinion, how can a network like Pollinate Impact address the challenges that incubator’s face, particularly around funding and talent?
Pollinate Impact plays a big role in helping impact incubators solve the challenges they face, and two of the biggest challenges are talent and funding, and they’re intertwined. We’ll start by talking about funding. Most of Pollinate Impact’s core strategies will help incubators attract more funding. We’re starting with improving effectiveness and measuring what matters. More effective incubators with better systems and programs are able to raise more money. Gathering metrics that funders care about is a key part of actually being able to raise funding, and we’re working with our members to help them make sure they’re doing that. These strategies are important places to start, but they ultimately are executed by people, and as I mentioned above, I think the focus on talent is the most exciting thing for me about this network. Helping incubators raise more money is the most important thing you can do to help solve the talent challenge. If we want to attract great talent, we need to be able to pay them appropriately. Once we can get them onboard and offer them decent compensation, the work really starts, and Pollinate Impact is focused on supporting incubators in a few ways: It is focused on providing a community and career development resources for people across the organization, not just at the senior level, like is the case for many similar organizations. Career advancement pathways are critical to retaining great talent, and helping incubators establish those is also an exciting part of our work. When we can attract and retain great talent, we’ll be able to attract and retain more funding, which creates a virtuous cycle. Getting these pieces right is critical to the success of the impact incubation industry.
What are the different opportunities you see this network creating for incubators and other players in the impact ecosystem?
The opportunities to collaborate around some of the big challenges are an exciting strategy. I’m excited to see resources mobilized in a focused way that crowds in capital while growing the pie for impact incubators and other stakeholders in the ecosystem. This will increase our effectiveness and accelerate our impact on some of the big challenges facing the planet!
What is the one key benefit this network provides? Why should an incubator consider becoming a member of Pollinate Impact?
The career development support and community for employees across the organization is pretty unique, and one of the most important benefits of joining. Anything we can do to improve the flow of talent into the ecosystem and retention of that talent will be a big help, since our success ultimately comes back to our people.
How would you describe Pollinate Impact in one sentence?

Pollinate Impact is a welcoming and passionate group of people who are committed to excellence to produce a future where we’re making a real dent in solving the world’s biggest challenges.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about incubation or the development of Pollinate Impact with the audience?
It’s been really fun to collaborate with colleagues from all over the world, and hear about how they’ve faced really similar challenges, along with some key differences. Embracing the diversity of our members is one of the factors that will make Pollinate Impact successful.

Paul Belknap

Paul Belknap is the Director of Impact Investing at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. He is passionate about improving access to quality healthcare through innovation.

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