Eight new early-stage social tech ventures have been awarded funding by UK-based tech-for-good funder, Nominet Trust. The funding will support the development of digital technology solutions to improve the lives of others, including wheelchair users, vulnerable people who need help navigating the legal system, stroke survivors, victims of stalking, and young asthma patients.
Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed funding programme is a combined grant and support package that helps these start-ups demonstrate the potential of their social tech products and services, providing digital tech solutions to a variety of social challenges and having a positive impact on people’s lives.
One of the businesses that made the cut is Disrupt Disability, recognised in the 2016 NT100 for its efforts in transforming the way wheelchairs are designed, manufactured and distributed. The start-up has is driven by a mission to help the 52 million people worldwide who do not have access to a wheelchair that meets their needs. Their disruptive and liberating approach has at its heart an online platform of open source wheelchair designs that enable people to access, create, and adapt components to reflect specific needs, producing wheelchairs that are affordable, modular and fully customisable.
Another one of the eight businesses is media co-op, which is an incident recording app designed to empower victims of stalking. Developed with victims, campaigners, police, public prosecutors and lawyers in Scotland, the app will transform the way victims log stalking incidents – increasing their sense of control and the chances of successful prosecutions.
TapSOS Ltd has developed an app that provides a nonverbal method of contacting the emergency services. It works to help people whose ability to communicate is compromised, for example by hearing impairments, speech impediments, breathing difficulties, or who are victims of domestic violence. With TapSOS, they can call for help without needing to speak.
In this seventh round of Social Tech Seed, Nominet Trust has awarded a total of £374,763. Social Tech Seed is an open grant funding programme that offers entrepreneurial organisations early-stage investment to develop innovative projects harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies to tackle social issues to improve lives. The programme supports projects tackling pressing social challenges such as the environment and sustainability, the justice system, education, employment and medicine. The eight organisations chosen will use the funding to develop their products and services further, demonstrating their social, user and financial value.
The other successful start-ups in this round are:
- Corporation Pop: This start-up has created Patient’s Virtual Guide, a mobile app that demystifies the hospital process for younger patients, allowing them to explore what they can expect to happen to them in hospital through a fun and stimulating game, harnessing augmented reality and beacon technology.
- Neurofenix: This start-up’s gameball platform revolutionises rehabilitation therapy for stroke survivors through games and social networking.
- Tiny Medical Apps has developed Learnable – a gamified app to encourage teenagers to stick to their personalised asthma action plans.
- Mapmyhealth is helping diabetes patients understand, engage with and self-manage their condition using digital therapeutics.
- Just: Transcription is an automated speech-to-text service that produces fast, accurate and cost effective court transcripts, tackling the key barriers of accessibility and transparency of justice for the most vulnerable.
“The UK has a burgeoning social tech sector, but access to funding for start-ups at the very early stages of their development remains limited – yet this is crucial to enable social innovators to test their ideas and unlock the potential of digital tech to improve lives,” Nominet Trust’s Vicki Hearn said. “Nominet Trust is proud to support these eight new ventures via our Social Tech Seed programme, which has been hugely successful in kick-starting dozens of similarly exciting new projects. We’re looking forward to seeing how they develop.”
Social Tech Seed has supported 40 organisations through its six cohorts to date. Previous grantees include Open Bionics, who use the latest 3D body scanning and printing technology to create bionic hands that are lightweight, take five days to fit and cost just £2,000; and Alice, an online platform harnessing blockchain technology to make charitable giving more transparent – restoring trust in charities.