Social Tech Entrepreneurs Get £1M Grant To Address UK And Global Social Issues

One of the areas of the tech scene in the UK which has received a lot of enthusiasm in the UK has been social entrepreneurship, especially in tech. But until now, not a great deal of money has gone into the area. That changes today with a new initiative from Founders Forum for Good, the entrepreneur organisation, and the Nominet Trust non-profit. Launched today by Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, and Martha Lane Fox in front of Founders Forum attendees the new partnership, “Social Tech, Social Change” will put £1 million into 20 new ventures that have radically new ideas of how technology can tackle major social issues such as social care, child welfare, education, health and environment.

Among those who will be advising the project will be Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, Brent Hoberman (PROFounders), Jonathan Goodwin (Lepe Partners), Sir Tom Hunter, Dame Tessa Jane Jowell, and Mike Lynch (Autonomy founder). The idea is to back genuinely disruptive, profitable, scalable businesses that use technology to tackle social challenges in the UK and beyond.

Founders Forum for Good is backed by Founders Forum, the global organisation run out of the UK for some of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs. Nominet Trust, is the UK’s only dedicated ‘Tech for Good’ and the core funder of FFFG.

Nominet Trust will not be seeking equity or IP in the projects funded but instead provide a grant as well as mentoring from its network and Founders Forum For Good.

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, said that while the UK’s digital economy is thriving, contributing more than 8% of the UK’s GDP, there needs to be more done in social businesses. “We are just at the start of a journey tech for social good and companies like Big White Wall, Cybermentors, Apps for Good and CodeClub are first-class examples of what great work can be achieved on a global scale.”

Brent Hoberman told us: “We’re looking for creativity in the business model and the design, not just the technology. Social entreprenruers ARE entrepreneurs – and we have to create the market of social technology.”

The call for entries for the Nominet Trust Social Tech, Social Changefund will run between June – September 2013 with grants awarded from October 2013. Those interested in applying to the Nominet Trust Social Tech, Social Change fund can find out more here.

If you plans to apply there are a few rules: If you win the grant you have to form a legal entity, it’s for first proof of concept stuff not existing projects, and it’s not to buy hardware/software.

That’s a grant up to £50,000 per project, and applicants get to keep their IP.

Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the smooth and secure running of the .uk internet infrastructure.

FFFG is run by CEO Dafna Ciechanover Bonas, but founded last year by Martha Lane Fox. Bonas will co-ordinate all the founders and advocates from the Founders Forum side. All money, applications and judging will go through and be awarded by Nominet Trust as they obviously own and operate the fund.