The UK’s most promising social ventures - Business Works
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The UK’s most promising social ventures

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust Eleven winners of the Tech for Good Challenge have today been unveiled as England’s most innovative and disruptive early-stage ventures whose imaginative use of digital technology promises to have a profound impact on the future life chances of young people. This challenge forms part of Big Issue Invest and Nominet Trust’s commitment to turning the traditional funding and CSR model on its head by ensuring corporations truly engage with the ventures in which they are investing. It set out to find the nation’s brightest early-stage ventures and received more than one hundred applications from teams with technology innovations designed to tackle issues affecting young people.

"Digital technology has transformed how we communicate, how we work, how we buy and sell and how we learn," said Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust. "The Tech for Good Challenge demonstrates how technology can also transform how we address big social problems, in this case creating greater opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalised young people.

"If we are going to have any chance of solving our society’s pressing problems, we need to come together like never before across traditional sectors and disciplines. Key to the success of the Challenge has been the opportunity for charities and social enterprises to benefit from the ambition, experience and skills of corporate mentors who have helped the ventures on the path to high growth."

The 11 successful ventures were chosen by an expert judging panel from a shortlist of 13 ventures that were invited to take part in the 'Caterpillars' Cocoon' – a two-day pitching process that included workshops in leadership, team building and sessions with thought leaders in the sector.

In preparation for the Caterpillars’ Cocoon, all of the short-listed ventures took part in an intensive mentoring programme, delivered by the corporate partners, to help them develop their idea and refine it ahead of the pitching event.

The 11 winning ventures to be supported through the programme are: Flip Yourself; Selfless Fresh Young Media; FutureReach; MyTime; Work Hero; RunAClub; Insane Logic; DJ and MC Academy; State of Ambition; and Discoverables. Due to the high quality of the finalists, alternative support has since been provided for the two remaining teams.

Nigel Kershaw, Chief Executive of Big Issue Invest, said: "There are a lot of good people out there using technology in exciting new ways with the potential to achieve truly great things. The Challenge was to find those with a true passion for innovation and the power to transform the lives of young people."

Unlike Dragons’ Den, all the teams and mentors were winners

"Unlike Dragons’ Den, all the teams and mentors were winners, benefitting from a true exchange of ideas and learning from each other. Most importantly, we have succeeded in what we set out to achieve: bringing ventures and corporations together to create high-growth ventures with a far greater chance of delivering long-term social value and financial returns."

It is the first in a series of Challenges being run by Big Issue Invest as part of its Corporate Social Venture Challenge and by Nominet Trust as part of its Social Incubation Programme. Designed to provide a sustainable flow of investment capital and enterprise support to ventures delivering social value, both organisations are committed to new models of social incubation and investment and are now seeking partners to get involved.

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