Zinc brings 55 entrepreneurs together to address female mental health issues

The business builder's first programme will see selected entrepreneurs work together for six months to come up with tech solutions to female depression

Business builder Zinc has brought together 55 entrepreneurs in a bid to build tech start-ups that will help tackle issues surrounding female mental health.

Officially launching at the beginning of this month, but having made calls for applicants back in April, the six-month programme will see selected candidates immersed in expertise on women’s emotional and mental health from a range of industry professionals.

Expert speakers are drawn from some of the UK’s top universities including University College London, King’s College London, Oxford, Cambridge and LSE.

While experts from the NHS, the medical establishment, the tech ecosystem, and entrepeneurial world will also be on hand to offer insight and advice.

Once the selected entrepreneurs “learn as much as they can” about the issue of mental health, they form teams around the most promising ideas and begin developing them into scalable solutions.

The 55 participants (24 women and 31 men) were selected from a pool of 800 global applicants, with medical doctors, data scientists, serial tech entrepreneurs, UX/UI designers, computer vision experts, parents and social enterprise founders among the mix.

A diverse group of early-stage business talent, the average age is 33 with over half of all founders having previously started a businesses.

At the end of the six month programme, Zinc expects to form between five and 10 early stage companies in which it will take an 8% stake.

Founded by LocalGlobe co-founder Saul Klein, Bethnal Green Ventures director Paul Kirby and NewCo UK co-founder Ella Goldner, Zinc has previously raised £500,000 seed funding from LocalGlobe and is in the process of raising further capital from a range of angel investors, impact investors, strategic corporates and other foundations.

The ‘for good’ accelerator seeks to use innovations in technology to build companies that can be scaled globally to tackle problems faced by at least 100 million people.

According to the Office for National Statistics, one in four young women in the UK have suffered from anxiety and depression.

Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression and more than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders.

A recent World Health Organisation-led study estimated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

Ella Goldner, general manager and co-founder of Zinc, said:

“We are looking for businesses that can have an impact on at least 100 million people. Our first mission – to improve the mental and emotional health of 650 million women and girls – illustrates how ambitious we are being.

“Our supporters from academia, government and the UK business community will help guide and inspire our founders to set up successful and scalable businesses that are responding to genuine social needs.”

Paul Kirby, chief executive and co-founder of Zinc, said:

“Technology has done amazing things in the last 10 years but it has not really yet risen to the big social challenges of our age that affect communities across the world.

“In many developed economies there are intractable problems that are not being resolved, no matter how much money is thrown at them.

“In starting with the challenge of women’s emotional and mental health we recognise that this is a problem that is becoming more significant both in UK society and around the world.

Women and girls should not have to continue to suffer when there is so much knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm to tackle this problem, right here in London.

“We want to inspire and galvanise a whole community of entrepreneurs who can make a difference to their communities and give them the tools to develop businesses with a social mission that can be scaled across the whole world.”