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Tech to Unite Us is our new grant programme that supports innovative ventures transform lives with tech

About Tech to Unite Us

What: Tech to Unite Us is the inaugural £0.5m grant fund of our Innovate Social Tech programme. It aims to demonstrate how tech can reach its transformative potential when it’s driven by one of the greatest opportunities of our time – equality. Eligible ventures can apply for a grant of up to £45K over a 9-12-month funding period. Technical assistance is provided to accelerate venture growth.

Who: Talented teams developing innovative ventures that are at an early -stage, with the potential for transformative social impact at scale and the ambition for growth and sustainability.

When: Stage 1 applications are open from midday on Monday 2nd July until midday on Wednesday 25th July 2018. For those selected, Stage 2 applications will open week commencing Monday 6th August to Wednesday 29th August 2018. Investment decisions will be announced in October 2018. Tech to Unite Us has now closed for applications.

How: If you’ve read everything about Tech to Unite us, and you’re happy that it’s a good fit for your venture, submit your Stage 1 online application, including a link to a 90 second pitch video. You can also join one of our optional pre-application workshops:

Online: Thursday 5th July, 10:30am – 11:30am – FULL

Online: Wednesday 11th July, 10:30am – 11:30am – FULL

Google Campus, London: Tuesday 17th July, 5:30pm – 7:00pm – FULL

Online: Thursday 19th July, 2:00pm – 3:00pm – FULL


Visit our FAQs for more information on our application process.  Applications are now closed, but sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to hear about our next grant fund.


Background

“Tech to Unite Us” is part of Social Tech Trust’s Innovate Social Tech grant funding programme. It aims to demonstrate how tech can reach its transformative potential when it’s driven by one of the greatest opportunities of our time – equality.

We live in a unique moment in history: tech has made us more connected than ever; yet in other ways we are profoundly divided. We are at a juncture: if things continue as they are, the benefits that tech can deliver will accrue only to some, and the rest of us will be left further behind. That future is unacceptable to almost everyone. But this makes the moment ripe with opportunity to forge a shared future that makes tech work for everyone.

This is a call for radical new approaches that shift the balance of ‘power to people and communities‘ who want to challenge an unequal status quo. Tech is increasingly called upon to drive these shifts . . . but more radical and powerful still, is to look to people and communities to drive tech to unite us.


How can tech unite us? And overcome what divides us? Here are just a few examples:

We’re divided by wealth: not only because 1% of us get 82% of the wealth – but because some of us have the power to create, own and share value that many of us do not. Open Utility is democratising this power, quite literally. Piclo, their peer-2-peer platform has the potential to allow us to trade renewable energy with one another. In hardware innovation, Wevolver is an open source platform that devolves the power of creation, by allowing us to share blueprints for anyone to develop.

We’re divided by where we live: depending on your post-code, your opportunities and outcomes can vary dramatically. For example, having access to quality mental health services in your community. But no matter where you live, you can access Big White Wall to find mental health support and an online community that cares. This is a social network with social purpose built into its core.

We’re even divided by our physical abilities. Society disables people with non-accommodating infrastructure and unsuitable alternatives. OpenUp Music uses imaginative tech to enable any young musician – regardless of physical capability – to create beautiful music with inclusive youth orchestras.

These are just a few of the ways that we can challenge tech to reimagine what is possible – and help us realise a more equal and unified world.

We’re calling on ambitious early-stage ventures who are using tech to unite us. We encourage your interpretation of the theme, so if you’re using tech to increase access, opportunity or quality of outcomes in terms of wealth, health, education, political participation, community engagement or social justice – and you meet the criteria – you should apply!


What we’re going to do:

  • We’ll grant fund up to 10 ambitious ventures using tech to unite us in inspirational and transformational ways.
  • We’ll support you with technical assistance to give you the best chance of growing your venture sustainably and maximising your social impact.
  • We’ll work collaboratively sharing our knowledge of funding venture growth, and learning from others to support innovation for equality more broadly.

What we’re offering:

  • Up to £45k, which will be made as a grant with participation rights.
  • Technical assistance to support your growth, sustainability and capacity for transformative innovation, e.g. legal and business support, social impact measurement and reporting, marketing and communications.
  • Access to our extensive support networks, including mentors and investors.
  • A personal approach from the Social Tech Trust team – one that recognises the importance of flexibility for early-stage innovation.
  • Support to build your case for further investment.

Criteria

We’ll consider your application if your venture has:

  • A social mission embedded in your governance
  • Potential to deliver transformative social impact at scale through a deep understanding of the critical social challenge that drives your innovation and an ambition to make a difference through growth.
  • An innovative approach to tackling a social challenge; this could be through a creative business model, by harnessing emerging tech, or using existing tech in a new and transformative way.
  • A working product or service that you will continue to test and iterate; you are at the demonstration stage of your venture’s evolution.
  • Evidence of your potential to create user, social and financial value; for example, a theory of change, user co-design and testing, identified social KPIs, or prospective partnerships or routes to market.
  • The right team with the critical experience and expertise for success – in-house tech capabilities being an essential.
  • Registration as a UK-based organisation and the potential for social impact in the UK.

For a closer look at the application criteria, check our FAQs.


Funding process

Stage 1 applications for Tech to Unite Us will open at midday on Monday 2nd July and close at midday on Wednesday 25th July.

Our Stage 1 online application form is designed to focus on sharing essential information and takes only a few hours to complete. The core of the application is your explanation of the issue, innovation, tech, users and your team. Your 90 second video link provides a chance for your team to pitch, so we can start to get to know you.

We are hosting two pre-application webinars to answer any questions you may have about applying for Tech to Unite Us.

Invitations to apply at Stage 2 will be made week commencing Monday 6th August. If you’re invited to submit a Stage 2 application, you will have over three weeks to provide more depth to your application and submit a project plan and budget by Wednesday 29th August.

Our team will then work with shortlisted applicants during September to clarify any questions and to improve our understanding of your venture.

Investment decisions will be announced in October.


Key dates and milestones

Optional pre-application workshops:

Online: Thursday 5th July, 10:30am – 11:30am – COMPLETE

Online: Wednesday 11th July, 10:30am – 11:30am – COMPLETE

Google Campus, London: Tuesday 17th July, 5:30pm – 7:00pm – COMPLETE

Online: Thursday 19th July, 2:00pm – 3:00pm – COMPLETE

Stage 1 Applications: open at 12 noon on Monday 2nd July and close at 12 noon on Wednesday 25th July

Stage 2 Applications (invitation only): Invitations to complete stage 2 applications will be made week commencing Monday 6th August and will close at 12 noon on Wednesday 29th August.

Shortlisting: September

Investment decisions: October


 

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