First winners of £1m social tech start-up award announced

Social Tech, Social Change fund aims to support beneficial digital projects

Social tech charity Nominet Trust has announced the first ten winners of its £1m Social Tech, Social Change fund, which aims to back digital ventures that tackle social challenges.

Started by Nominet and non-profit foundation Founders Forum For Good (FFFG), the fund will back its winners with £50,000 investment apiece as well as mentorship from leading international tech entrepreneurs to develop their early-stage offerings into scalable, successful social tech ventures.

Each venture will be matched to its own digital entrepreneur mentor, appointed by FFFG, who will provide hands-on support to scale the winning businesses’ digital projects.

The organisers said the winners all shared the fund’s goal of driving social and economic change through the innovative use of technology whilst also demonstrating viable and highly scalable business ideas.

10 winners were selected from a pool of around 220 applicants and targeted a variety of social challenges including access to education, green energy and autism support.

The first 10 winning ventures are:

  • Online video learning platform Benkyo Player Ltd
  • Digital neighbourhood planning tool Commonplace Digital Ltd
  • Energy saving tool London Rebuilding Society
  • Set-top box for the elderly MKS Solutions, designed to combat social isolation
  • Peer-to-peer energy marketplace Open Utility Ltd
  • Playlab London, a breathing-controlled videogame designed to ameliorate the symptoms of panic attacks
  • Specialisterne, a recruitment tool matching individuals with autism and organisations that require their unique skills
  • Agoraphobia sufferer app Virtually Free Ltd
  • Adept Communications, an app designed to allow carers to monitor their patients whilst away
  • Open digital learning platform Superflux and Forum for the Future

Nominet Trust has announced that its second tranche of winners will be announced in January next year.

Annika Small, chief executive of Nominet Trust, said: “When we launched Social Tech, Social Change we sent out a rallying call to action for UK entrepreneurs to use technology to drive significant social change. We have been overwhelmed with how the community has responded”

“This fund is designed to stimulate the growth of emerging ‘tech for social good’ businesses in the UK. What we have seen so far is a high calibre of applicants with a passion to improve the lives of some of the least fortunate through the imaginative use of technology. Nominet Trust will not be seeking equity or intellectual property but instead providing funding in order to move ideas from prototype to high-impact growth.”

Dafna Ciechanover Bonas, co-founder and chief executive of Founders Forum For Good, added: “At Founders Forum for Good we are committed to supporting digital innovation for social impact across all sectors. The Social Tech, Social Change fund was created to champion transformational ideas in their early stages and to provide support, funding and guidance to the next generation of digital entrepreneurs.

“Offering sustained mentoring from some of the world’s leading digital entrepreneurs from the Founders Forum for Good network will help accelerate the growth and impact of these exciting new tech ventures and provide a real opportunity for these projects to impact social change.”

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