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Founders Forum gets behind £1m “Social Tech, Social Change” fund

Jason Hesse

Nominet Trust has launched a £1m “Social Tech, Social Change” fund at Founders Forum, calling on tech leaders to tackle social issues

Nominet Trust is launching the new £1m fund and challenge in partnership with Founders Forum for Good. Its goal is to stimulate the growth of “tech for social good” businesses in the UK.

The fund will offer finance and mentoring to up to 20 ventures/entrepreneurs with a technology-based business or idea that addresses one or more of the major social issues affecting Britain, including unemployment, education, social isolation and health.

Backed by Founders Forum

Annika Small

Nominet Trust CEO Annika Small

Heavyweight tech entrepreneurs and Founders Forum board members – including Jimmy Wales, Brent Hoberman, Martha Lane Fox, Jonathan Goodwin and Mike Lynch – have already offered their support for the scheme, which is being run by Nominet Trust, the .uk domain name registry’s charitable arm.

“Working with many social entrepreneurs, we’ve found that they have vast amounts of determination and creativity, but they perhaps don’t quite ‘get’ tech in the way that tech entrepreneurs do – they understand its full potential to disrupt and transform,” Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, told Tech City News.

“The Social Change challenge is trying to encourage more tech innovators to lend their energy and talent to some pretty tough social challenges. There is something about the way that tech entrepreneurs approach a challenge: they have the right level of ambition and speed, and it is our sense that the pace of change will accelerate this way.”

20 ventures

Up to 20 ventures will receive funding from the £1m fund, which is being considered as a grant – Nominet Trust will not seek equity or IP in the projects.

Small says she is confident the tech entrepreneurs can offer the valuable mentoring needed. “The UK’s digital economy is thriving, contributing more than 8 per cent of the UK’s GDP. The talented individuals behind this industry have fundamentally changed the way we communicate, work, learn and shop. Imagine what’s possible if these same individuals, who have done so much for our economy, now turned their attention to the tougher social challenges?”

Brent Hoberman, founder of Founders Forum, Lastminute.com, Mydeco.com and one of the fund’s supporters, adds: “We’re delighted for Founders Forum to stand alongside Nominet Trust to inspire more of Europe’s most talented entrepreneurs to start ventures that are both financially sound and address society’s biggest challenges.”

The call for entries for the Nominet Trust “Social Tech, Social Change” fund will run between June and September 2013, with grants being awarded from October onwards.

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