Winning ventures look to what’s next

Last week’s Impact Awards event at Oval Space brought together 300 people from across the UK tech for good sector. For our winners, finalists and wider DigitalAgenda network, the awards event kicks off a year of engagement. Julian Blake reports. trophiesflipThe 300 guests who joined DigitalAgenda at last week’s Impact Awards at Oval Space in east London were part of what was a very special afternoon and evening indeed. The buzz in the room was palpable, with the event as much about connection as it was about celebration. This was very deliberately not your regular awards event. Celebrate we did, of course, with no less than 14 award winners across our broad themes of people, places and business, as well as two special awards for individual impact and people’s choice. They’re listed in full below. We were especially pleased to give out our new people’s choice award, decided by public vote, to TalkLife, the social network created for mental health and wellbeing that has an added layer of machine learning to help flag when people are at risk of a crisis.

New ventures that scooped awards included Go Jauntly, a discovery app for city walks created by the team at Furthermore. Cities are as much about leisure as work, so it’s great to see a piece of consumer-facing sharing economy tech pick up our cities award. Impact Awards 2018 - Adah ParrisLOQBOX, the winner of our financial inclusion award, is also new. Our judges were impressed by a double-sided model that helps people both rebuild their credit histories and improve their financial education, without having to take on debt. Those seeking novelty among our winners need look no further than SafetyNet Technologies, who scooped the sustainable living award for its light-emitting devices that are helping fishing boats land the right fish and reduce unwanted ‘by-catch’. The more established but equally eyebrow-raising what3words has developed from an interesting idea – labelling every 3m square on the planet – into a tech for good product that gives everyone on earth an address. OLIO and Koru Kids flew the flag for the sharing economy in their own way, using their platforms to respond to particular social and environmental challenges. And Bethnal Green Ventures was a deserved winner for investing and supporting nearly 100 tech for good startups in their purposeful missions.

The Impact Awards are about much more than startups, of course. Business and charity is very much part of our picture. We were delighted that, after being a finalist in 2017, the team revolutionising the internal workings at Citizens Advice scooped our 2018 business transformation award. Others are providing services for very big organisations. In the NHS, health winner SH:24 is working to improve front-line sexual health services. In schools, Digital Theatre+ is engaging students with brilliant performing arts content. And in the housing sector, Switchee is working with social landlords to help their tenants save money and use less energy, while Alcove is helping older people to stay independent. A word for our individual impact award winner, Tom Steinberg. As the creator of MySociety, Tom’s work has touched millions of citizens across the UK and beyond. Yet few beyond this sector have heard of him. Judge Mike Bracken was right to describe Steinberg as “an unsung hero” as he handed over the trophy. The awards event was deliberately run to be much more than just a gong show. That’s why we built in time for captivating on-stage speakers like Gail Gallie of Project Everyone and Mairi Johnson of babylon (our health winner in 2017), as well as an important message on the power of tech for good from Matthew Gould, the government’s director general for digital.

The whole event was held together once again by our compere Oli Barrett, who always manages to keep the show light-touch and heavyweight at the same time. Oli is more than just our compere: he’s a networker extraordinaire and a brilliant supporter for DigitalAgenda, the Impact Awards and tech for good more broadly. awardsoverviewThe feedback from those who came to the awards has been excellent, with 95% rating it very good or good, with similar approval ratings for the content and format. We’ve had loads of ideas about ways to make the awards even better next time – so thanks to everyone who told us what they think. Special thanks to all involved in this year’s awards, not least our headline sponsor Nominet Trust, and our new lead supporter coming alongside them, Berenberg. Thanks also to our category sponsors (listed below) and to our reception supporter, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Thanks also to our 18 brilliant judges for giving their time and to help us reach the best possible set of winners.

So what’s next? We don’t want the Impact Awards to be just about an annual event and a nice trophy. That’s why DigitalAgenda is working with partners like Microsoft UK and SeedTribe to support winners and finalists, including at events that also draw in members of our growing DigitalAgenda Network. Impact Awards 2018 winnersThere’s a great team involved in putting on a show like this, and personal thanks from me to Hagit Amsterdam and Carmen Aguila-Tornero in our marketing team and also to Sarah Thackray, Catherine Coulter and the genius team at Beacon House Events. As the director of DigitalAgenda, it’s been a privilege to have led the awards for a second year. We’ve created something special, that connects the best people working with tech for purpose and not just profit. We’re also building something that the UK tech for good sector needs, and is starting to value more as we move forward. Impact Awards 2018 – winners Education (sponsored by Barclays) – Digital Theatre+ Employment & skills (sponsored by BCS) – Koru Kids Health (sponsored by Reason Digital) – SH:24 Sharing & communities (sponsored by Sharemrkt/The People Who Share)– OLIO Cities (sponsored by Here East) – Go Jauntly Climate (sponsored by The Planet Mark) – Switchee Smart – Alcove Sustainable living (sponsored by Gone for Good) – SafetyNet Technologies Business transformation (sponsored by Opencast Software) – Citizens Advice Financial inclusion (sponsored by )– LOQBOX Investment – Bethnal Green Ventures Social and economic transformation – what3words People’s choice – TalkLife Individual impact award – Tom Steinberg Impact Awards winners unveiled Listen to the talks from the awards Impact Awards in pictures View the Impact Awards event programme Nominet Trust Berenberg banner