More than 80 startups have now come through the respected Bethnal Green Ventures tech-for-good accelerator programme. With a 65% survival rate way higher than the wider market, it looks clear that BGV is a good route to sustainable social innovation. As the east London accelerator hosts its latest demo day, Julian Blake looks at the teams and tech coming through.
Eleven of the UK’s brightest tech-for-good startups display their digital wares this week at the end of the latest Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) accelerator programme.
The 11 (listed below), make up the ninth cohort to have taken part in the accelerator since BGV began its work back in 2012 supporting startups tackling problems across health, education, sustainability and democracy.
The government and trust-backed BGV programme gives startups an investment of £15,000 in exchange for 6% equity, co-working space at east London’s Ministry of Startups – and an intensive 12-week programme of mentoring and support designed to accelerate the growth of their social venture.
“Every BGV cohort is very different because the founders come from different walks of life – some have lived experiences of the problems they’re trying to solve, while others have come from industry or academia and are experts in their areas,” BGV partner Jessica Stacey explained.
Stacey said there was “a lot of interesting tech” in the latest cohort, including from blockchain, virtual reality and internet of things.
“Alice.si is using blockchain to improve fundraising for charities, Immersive Rehab uses VR for physical rehabilitation and Babihub uses sensors and connected devices to collect data on toddlers to improve their health and wellbeing. We’ve also got quite a few startups solving problems with online marketplaces – from Britelives connecting elderly people with local services, to Worktu connecting schools with supply teachers, to Transport Together connecting community transport providers with passengers.”
The latest 11 join BGV’s 72 accelerator alumni – meaning that to date a total of 83 have come through the BGV accelerator.
BGV can point to a good business survival rate as evidence of its success. With 54 of the total still operating that translates into a healthy survival rate of 65% – way above the widely accepted one-in-10 survival rate.
So do tech for good startups have a greater chance of success now? “Building a startup is hard, and I think that building a tech for good startup is probably even harder, because they are tackling gnarly problems, often with user groups or customers that have been poorly served by tech in the past,” said Stacey.
“It can take more time, there’s normally an education piece – educating users, customers or funders – that needs to happen for the startup to succeed. But the struggle is worth it when there’s the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of people.”
She added: “One thing we’ve noticed is how our alumni network has grown really strong, with alumni founders often coming back to mentor the current teams.”
Beyond its accelerator programme, BGV also operates as an early-stage investor and support network. It is funded by the government’s social incubator fund, Nominet Trust, Nesta and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. It is also a certified B Corp.
BGV launched a new ‘workertech’ programme this month, working with the Resolution Trust to “support startups that use technology to boost worker rights”.
BGV’s autumn 2016 cohort
DigitalAgenda’s change directory features all 11 BGV-backed businesses from the latest cohort:
Alice SI – blockchain technology helping charities raise funds based on impact.
Babihub – smart monitoring system keeping infants out of harm in the home or nursery.
BriteLives – platform helping older people, relatives and carers access services.
Chatterbox – online language learning service training and employing refugees as tutors.
Data Campfire – community-based platform encouraging learning about data science.
E-ccommodate – app helping separated parents arrange childcare.
Health Make Space – networking platform connecting clinicians and SMEs for innovations in the NHS.
Immersive Rehab – creating VR games improving effectiveness of physical rehabilitation.
Simulation Sense – teaching diagnostic skills to health professionals through a simulator app.
Transport Together – online marketplace for community transport.
Worktu – connecting schools directly with experienced supply teachers.
BGV’s spring 2017 accelerator is open for applications til Jan 15. Find out more at bit.ly/2gBj8Wz.
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