Startups using tech to help deliver on the United Nations global goals are being encouraged to apply for a new UK-based accelerator opening for applications in London, backed by senior figures in sustainability, investment and tech for good.
The new global goals accelerator, designed to grow ventures in developed countries, is led by sustainability professionals Andy Wales and Ed Gillespie, in collaboration with London-based tech for good accelerator operator Bethnal Green Ventures.
News of the emerging accelerator plan was first reported by DigitalAgenda last month.
Three years have passed since the UN adopted its 17 global goals (aka the sustainable development goals), with the public and private sector striving to improve people’s lives under one common framework.
With the goals setting an ambitious agenda to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and more, organisers say there is “great potential” to help accelerate the growth of tech for good startups to contribute to achieving the goals.
Increasingly, private sector companies are aligning their business operations with the SDGs, opening up economic opportunities with a worth of up to $12trn. A UN-backed coalition, 2030Vision, has estimated that digital solutions could unlock an extra $2.1trn in tech sector revenue specifically by 2030.
Tech for good innovation is already improving people’s lives across the world and helping to achieve the SDGs – whether it’s open-source data platforms connecting research to mitigate the effects of climate change, the use of virtual reality to show the lives of refugees in Zaatari (pictured) or applying frontier technologies to the biggest challenges in development.
A significant portion of innovation occurs in developing markets themselves, with support from a range of foundations for accelerators and tech hubs across developing countries that inspire and enable more home-grown entrepreneurs.
But technologies emerging from those working and studying in developed countries also have a lot to offer to deliver the global goals. The UK is brimming with new tech ideas and entrepreneurs highly motivated for social impact, say the accelerator founders. Many of them want to start a business that makes a contribution to international development, but find it hard to get their businesses off the ground.
Ventures applying to the new programme will receive investment and support through the main BGV accelerator programme. Selected ventures will also receive a travel bursary and access to a network of advisors and partners providing routes into emerging and developing markets.
Gillespie (pictured) a writer, serial entrepreneur and co-founder at Futerra, added: “We’re genuinely excited by the opportunity to grow businesses with a powerful sense of purpose and service ‘baked-in’ from the beginning, and whose focus will be positive social and environmental impact from the word go.”
“Our vision is for the UK to become a leading hub for tech for international development. We want to build a community of high quality tech entrepreneurs, better connected to each other, their target markets and multinational partners, accelerating startups for the SDGs,” said Wales, who is chief digital impact and sustainability officer for BT and a senior adviser to the Global Innovation Fund.
BGV’s Jess Stacey joined Gillespie and Wales to explain the new London accelerator at a ‘growing green tech’ dinner hosted by DigitalAgenda in London this week.
Applications for BGV’s autumn programme open this week until Monday July 9, via bethnalgreenventures.com/apply.