New £1.3m investment for Bethnal Green Ventures

Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) celebrates the fifth anniversary of its impact investment start-up accelerator by announcing £1.3m new investment from Big Society Capital, Nominet Trust and Nesta.

This is the first time that Big Society Capital has backed an accelerator programme. Big Society Capital join BGV’s founding partners Nesta and Nominet Trust.

Since first opening applications in March 2012 BGV’s accelerator has invested £1.4m in 86 startups that use technology to address major social and environmental problems – BGV describes these as ‘tech for good’ startups.

BGV currently has 56 active tech for good startups in its portfolio, that have raised over £23m in further funding between them, and are estimated to have benefited over 6.5m people with their products and services. Notable success stories include Fairphone, the world’s first modular sustainable mobile phone, and DrDoctor, the hospital bookings system used by over 4 million NHS patients (case studies available on request).

This new funding will be used to expand BGV’s operations, to build further partnerships and to develop later stage impact investment products for tech for good startups.

Commenting on the need to expand BGV’s current model, which combines a 12-week accelerator with £20,000 investment, BGV CEO Paul Miller said:

“We’ve proved our accelerator model works, but it’s not enough on its own. Startups require ongoing support and funding to scale up their operations, this is especially true for startups focused on social impact. Last year we expanded our offer by being able to invest up to £50,000 in great teams after the accelerator stage. This year we’re planning a fund to be able to back alumni and other tech for good ventures with next stage capital. This will help to plug a notable hole in seed-stage impact investment available to startups in the tech for good space.”

Big Society Capital is the UK’s biggest wholesale investor into impact investment. Tom Bennett, Investment Director at Big Society Capital said:

“Bethnal Green Ventures has consistently lead the way in building early stage technology ventures that are helping to tackle some of the UK’s most challenging social problems. Big Society Capital are delighted to be able to help fund the next stage of Bethnal Green Ventures’ growth. We look forward to working with the Bethnal Green Ventures’ team to help use technology to deliver a better society.”

Nominet Trust has pioneered funding and support for tech for good ventures through its Social Tech Seed grant funding programme and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100. Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust said:

“By supporting entrepreneurs who are using digital technology to enable positive change, BGV is playing a crucial role in growing the UK’s tech for good ecosystem and in consolidating our country’s global reputation for creative tech for good ventures. Nominet Trust is committed to ensuring this success continues; we’re proud to have been a founding partner of BGV and are excited to announce our renewed support today. BGV is a big part of the UK’s tech for good sector and, in helping them to grow, we’re also helping the sector to go from strength to strength.”

Nesta is the UK’s Innovation Foundation and has supported Bethnal Green Ventures. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive said:

“Nesta is proud to have been involved with BGV from its launch. Since then 10 cohorts of socially motivated business start-ups have been supported by BGV who’ve shown how intensive support can help entrepreneurs turn promising ideas into credible ‘profit with purpose’ businesses. We’re now delighted to be part of their next phase, with a fantastic group of partners bringing not only money but also knowledge and networks too.”

By UKBAA 27 Mar 2017