Ben Reynolds PhD (Culture & Urban Regeneration) BSc (Hons) MMRS FRSA
Ben is the founder and Director of Urban Foundry and oversees all our work. He has a Doctorate (Swansea University, 2004) in the creative regeneration of cities and over 20 years experience in regeneration. He is a member of the Market Research Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and he has been both an executive and a non-executive director of a number of social businesses and charitable organisations. Ben also served as a Commissioner for the Welsh Government’s Cooperatives and Mutuals Commission.
Ben’s approach, central to our brand, is one that uses creative thinking combined with a strong theoretical understanding and entrepreneurial thinking to solve a range of problems, from small community initiatives to nationwide schemes and programmes. He knows how to make projects happen, how to make them last, and how to demonstrate that they make a difference.
Over 25 years he has developed a detailed working knowledge of the public, social/purpose-driven business, and third sectors. He has also written on the cultural regeneration of city centres and contributed to published works on Community Work and developing Cooperatives and Mutuals, and he has given numerous guest lectures at Swansea University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, as well as at various conferences focused on regeneration.
Ben is a social entrepreneur and in addition to founding Urban Foundry as Swansea’s first (and only Wales’ third) BCorp, he has founded and developed successful social enterprises and served on the boards of various non-profit initiatives. He is a pioneer of pop-up urbanism initiatives, developing projects in public space such as street markets, live music and art events, and pop-up parks, as well as pioneering Meanwhile/Pop-up uses in empty buildings in Wales. Ben’s work and that of Urban Foundry has directly led to street markets, popup urbanism projects and green infrastructure featuring in the Welsh Government’s programme for government and its Transforming Towns funding streams.
He has a sharp understanding of public funding – he has supported a wide range of groups in raising millions for various regeneration projects, from public and private sources. He has also served on various funding panels, including those distributing European Structural Funds, and he has supported public funding projects that have allocated tens of millions of pounds of public funding.
Ben has also led a range of feasibility studies, community engagement/consultation exercises, business and marketing planning for start-ups, micro-enterprise, and social businesses, and he is an advisor on the Social Business Wales support framework. He has facilitated collaborative/partnership working for a wide range of clients in Wales, England, and Scotland. He has also designed and delivered a number of evaluation commissions for large and small scale projects across the UK and he is a leading practitioner delivering Theory of Change as an approach.
He is an invited member on the Regeneration Swansea partnership and the Swansea Poverty Truth Commission, he has contributed to the early stages of the south west Wales Circular Economy Club, and was part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Build Back Better’ regional response to COVID19 in south west Wales.
Ben is also a Big Ideas Wales Role Model for Welsh Government, visiting schools, FE and HE institutions to talk about social entrepreneurialism and purpose-driven business, and he is Swansea University’s Entrepreneur in Residence.