Big Issue Invest announces Tech for Good winners

Big Issue's social investment arm hails discovery of 11 early-stage tech ventures.


The Big Issue's social investment arm has awarded 11 early-stage tech ventures up to 50,000 to support the growth of their organisations through its Tech for Good Challenge.

The competition was launched back in February with the aim to uncover 10 organisations that use technology to provide learning support and job opportunities to some of the UK's one million young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

However, because of the high quality of entries, 11 winners have been selected from a shortlist of 13, although the remaining ventures will receive "alternative support", Big Issue Invest has confirmed.

The winners include Flip Yourself, Selfless, Fresh Young Media, FutureReach, MyTime, WorkHero, RunAClub, Insane Logic, DJ and MC Academy, State of Ambition and Discoverables.

A full run down of what each organisation does can be found below.

Big Issue Invest ran the initiative in conjunction with the Nominet Trust, but it also won the backing of several corporate partners, including the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, LDC, The MITIE Foundation, Salesforce Foundation and Unity Trust Bank.

Before the winning teams were selected, the shortlisted organisations were invited to take part in a two-day pitching and mentoring process that included leadership and team building workshops.

They were also given additional support in the run-up to this event to help refine and develop their ideas.

At the time of the competition's launch, Nigel Kershaw OBE, chief executive of Big Issue Invest, told IT Pro the ideal applicant would be an organisation that could use the support offered through the scheme to scale-up their operations, rather than start out.

"It doesn't matter what world you live in at the moment, that early stage growth funding is hard to get, regardless of whether your project has social benefits or not," he said.

"So, [the ideal project] will have a track record, as well as a plan of action for the future."

In a follow-up statement today, Kershaw said the competition was the first of many challenges Big Issue Invest and Nominet will be embarking on.

"Unlike Dragons' Den, all the teams and mentors were winners, benefitting from a true exchange of ideas and learning from each other," he said.

"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," he added.

Tech for Good winning entries

  • Flip Yourself uses social networking-type tools to enable young people to record their achievements and showcase them in a profile to potential employers.
  • Selfless is a digital platform that allows unversity and college students to find out more about volunteering opportunities.
  • Fresh Young Media produces a business-focused magazine for young people.
  • FutureReach specialises in providing companies with access to "exceptional" school leavers from diverse backgrounds through pre-university internships.
  • MyTime aims to offer young people access to mental health support through an app-based interface.
  • WorkHero and RunAClub are two other winning organisations with a volunteering slant. The former allows youngsters to set up an online profile to demonstrate their non-curricular work and learning experiences, while the latter is a cloud-based administration system for people that want to run community and volunteering clubs.
  • InsaneLogic is an app and training service that relies on the Makaton system of sign language and symbols to help children and adults with communication problems.
  • Discoverables is a website that relies on gamification to help people develop new skills and become more readily accessible to potential employers.
  • The DJ and MC Academy bills itself as a youth arts organisation that encourages children to develop new skills.
  • State of Ambition is described as a platform that gives 16-to-30 year olds the opportunity to drum up support in order for them to achieve any long-held ambitions they may have within 21 days.
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