A new growth programme is set to launch in London, focusing on UK tech for international development through the United Nations global goals. The move is the latest effort to promote digital startups for sustainable development, in what is said to be a $2.1trn market opportunity.
A new initiative, to accelerate UK-based tech ventures delivering on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals in emerging and developing markets, is expected to be unveiled in London soon.
Ed Gillespie, co-founder of London-based change agency Futerra, is a co-founder of the new programme. Though other partners are unconfirmed, the initiative is expected to be delivered by an existing operator.
Gillespie said: “London is a global tech hub, with excellent funding opportunities and strong connections to emerging and developing markets. It’s the ideal place for this.”
The 17 goals were agreed by the leaders of 193 countries worldwide in 2015, looking to end extreme poverty, inequality, injustice and the threat of climate change by 2030.
The initiative follows a push by a UN-backed coalition bringing together governments, businesses, NGOs and universities to help deliver the goals. That 2030Vision coalition, founded by Arm, set out the role for digital in delivering each of the goals in December.
Its 2030Vision report said “digital solutions with positive impact on the goals” could unlock $2.1trn in additional annual revenue for the tech sector by 2030 – with benefits in the “critical areas” of food and agriculture, transport, infrastructure and logistics, and health.
Gail Gallie (pictured), of the UN-backed Project Everyone campaign, agreed there were “huge market opportunities” in the global goals. Speaking at DigitalAgenda’s Impact Awards in March, she said: “Digital is the place I think where we are going to get the kind of Moore’s Law exponential improvements in people’s health, wellbeing, education, safety and all those things.”
She added: “This is big business if you are a startup. Organisations are framing how they invest both grants and investments, and high-risk ones too. There’s a lot of funds that are saying that they will put the first money in and be prepared to be the first to lose it if you’re flagging which goals you’re solving. That’s got to be a good thing for an entrepreneur. It’s exciting.”
Commenting on the new proposal, Gillespie said: “We want to build a community of entrepreneurs, better connected to each other, accelerating startups for the SDGs.”
The 17 global goals
1: No poverty
2: Zero hunger
3: Good health and well-being
4: Quality education
5: Gender equality
6: Clean water and sanitation
7: Affordable and clean energy
8: Decent work and economic growth
9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
10: Reduced inequality
11: Sustainable cities and communities
12: Responsible consumption and production
13: Climate action
14: Life below water
15: Life on land
16: Peace and justice strong institutions
17: Partnerships to achieve the goals
Story updated May 10.