1st October 2019

Social Tech Trust, in partnership with Microsoft and Microsoft for Start-ups, today launched their second AI for Good Accelerator Programme.  The programme supports the organisation’s vision to transform lives with tech and sees the welcome return of the collaboration between the organisations, bringing together their social tech, AI and business expertise.

Applications are open until 15th November 2019, via the Microsoft for Start-ups website.  Successful ventures will participate in a four-month accelerator programme, starting in February 2020 and will benefit from resources, advice, and one-to-one support to help them scale their purpose driven AI initiative.

The programme will promote transformative change through AI in four key areas:

  • AI for Earth, designed for organisations deploying AI to build a sustainable future and address global environmental concerns spanning agriculture, biodiversity, climate change, and water.
  • AI for Accessibility, focused on organisations with AI solutions that help everyone in their daily life, employment, and communication and connection.
  • AI for Humanitarian Action, for non-profit and humanitarian organisations providing disaster responses, human rights protection, and support for refugees, displaced people or children.
  • AI for Cultural Heritage, aiming to support people and organisations focused on the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage.

 

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said: “We have an exciting opportunity to help more social tech ventures to shape the future we want to see, using AI. I’m inspired by the growth we’ve seen from the 11 ventures in our first cohort and can’t wait to see the very best UK social tech innovations that emerge as we open applications for our second AI for Good programme, in partnership with Microsoft.”

Microsoft, Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa, said:

“AI is one of the most important tools we have to accelerate innovation at the speed and scale we need to address climate change and other important societal challenges. It’s exciting to see Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative evolving to engage new partners and help catalyse social impact organisations across the UK.”

The previous AI for Good Accelerator cohort which graduated in 2019, focused on AI for accessibility and AI for environmental sustainability, includes a revolutionary smart-cane for visually impaired, from WeWalk; interactive physiotherapy programmes in Virtual Reality from Immersive Rehab; and green energy charging for electric vehicles from ev.energy.

 

Visit Microsoft for Start-ups for application criteria, FAQs and to apply.


Our Tech to Unite Us cohort of ventures brushed away the back to school blues this month as they wowed us with a veritable assortment of awards and nominations.  Awards and recognition for our portfolio included:

> Carefree who picked up the award for Third Sector 2019 Breakthrough of the Year in recognition of their work to create a sharing economy to give carers a break.

> Beam, the world’s first crowdfunding network for homeless people, celebrated their 2nd birthday and won the Community Impact Award 2019 at the Tech 4 Good Awards in August and were selected as one of the UK’s TOP 100 Companies to work at by Escape the City.

> The Tribe Project was recognised by UK law firm Mills and Reeve in their Innovation 50 list, as one of the most innovative companies in the Midlands.

> Chatterbox, the online language learning programme for professionals, powered by refugee talent, has been shortlisted for the UK tech awards 2019, tech for good award. Good luck Chatterbox!

 

Not to be outdone, our AI for Good cohort, in partnership with Microsoft and Vodafone Techstarters are also lining the mantelpiece in recognition of their achievements.

> ev.energy picked up ‘World’s Best Energy Startup 2019’ award from Free Electrons 2019 for their software that optimises electric vehicle charging, making it greener, cheaper and simpler for customers.

> Founder and CEO of Shock Innovations, Amanda Pickford scooped the award for Women’s Enterprise Scotland Awards for ThermaFY –software that makes it easy to see, measure and report on thermal imaging.

> Isabel Van De Keere, founder and CEO of Immersive Rehab has been nominated as a finalist in the “Inventor of the year” category of the Tech Alliance Awards, that celebrate diversity and inclusion within UK’s tech sector.

> Vodafone Techstarter, Walk With Path  was awarded the top prize of €1 million for improved mobility of older people by the EU research and innovation programme under Horizon2020.  The innovative solution of Path Finder improves the lives of older people with reduced mobility, specifically those living with Parkinson’s disease.

>Vertical farmers, Lett Us Grow, from our Vodafone Techstarter cohort, was also named as one of the TOP 100 most progressive places to work in the UK by

Congratulations to all!

Follow our ventures’ progress on Twitter: @SocialTechTrust and on LinkedIn: Social Tech Trust.


The Tech to Connect Challenge, delivered by Nesta for DCMS, aims to help civil society develop their early stage ideas for tech that combats social isolation.

Social Tech Trust CEO, Ed Evans has been invited to be one of 6 Judges to sit on the expert Judging Panel. Ed’s involvement in the programme supports the Trust’s belief that tech can reach its transformative potential when driven by social purpose and can shift society towards more connected, inclusive and empowered communities, where everyone has the power to make change.

The Judges offer a wealth of experience and insights, covering social isolation, technology and civil society. They will determine which entries are taken forward first as Finalists and then ultimately as the Winner and Runners Up.

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said, “I’m excited about judging the Tech to Connect Challenge because it supports communities – one of the three core areas where we believe tech has the greatest opportunity to transform lives.  By collaborating with civil society to unearth game changing tech innovation, I’m confident that Tech to Connect Challenge will create meaningful social impact.”

The Challenge prize will help finalists from England’s charities, social enterprises and social ventures, develop their ideas into working prototypes and plan for their implementation. The £1 million prize will be split into £500,000 of business support from Nesta Challenges with the other £500,000 being awarded as financial support.

10 finalists will each receive a £25,000 grant to use in the development of their prototypes; from these 10 finalists, 2 runners up will each receive a £75,000 cash prize and 1 winner will receive a £100,000 cash prize.

Winners will be announced in March 2020.

Read more about the Tech to Connect Challenge: https://techtoconnect.challenges.org/

 


Vodafone, today launched a new UK technology award programme in partnership with Social Tech Trust – Vodafone Techstarter – to support start -ups and early-stage ventures developing innovative technology solutions with social purpose. Vodafone Techstarter aims to uncover and develop ideas that can harness the power of technology, connectivity and innovation to improve health, education, environmental protection or social mobility. Vodafone Techstarter has been developed in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s charitable arm, and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated supporter of socially motivated tech ventures.

In addition to financial awards, winners will benefit from access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and the Social Tech Trust, enabling them to take their innovations from prototype to market readiness.  This will include coaching, commercial development support, mentorship, investment and partnership advice, with additional bespoke elements depending on their requirements.

The Vodafone Techstarter social innovation award fund for 2018 is £300,000 to be distributed as follows:

  • For profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by Vodafone UK.
  • Not for profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by the Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1089625).
  • Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s Award – two winners, voted by Vodafone employees, will each receive £10,000

Vodafone Techstarter is open to UK-based inventors, innovators, charities, social enterprises, businesses and entrepreneurs, with prototype ideas. All applications must have a clearly defined social purpose.  Applications can be submitted here between 20th September and 23rd October 2018.

The judging panel brings together industry, investment, technology and social purpose expertise and includes:

Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer,  Vodafone UK; Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK; Amparo Moraleda, Non-Executive Director, Vodafone Group Plc; Matthew Gould,- Director General for Digital and Media Policy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Jen Hyatt, Founder of Troo.ai, eartime and Big White Wall; Bill Liao, SOSV, CoderDojo and Social Tech Trust Chair; Warrick Cramer, CEO Tomorrow Street and Patrick Knight, Chief Information Officer, Travis Perkins.

Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK’s General Counsel & External Affairs Director and Vodafone Foundation Trustee, commented: “Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely exciting opportunity for industry to contribute vital support, expertise and funding to help take early stage ventures driven by social purpose from start-up to scale-up. We believe that some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation.  The UK has a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in providing solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.”

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK added: “We are committed to supporting start-ups across the UK. I’m particularly excited to be encouraging new innovations that will contribute positively to the world we live in. The scaling of technology solutions can be a challenge for any start-up, and particularly for socially-motivated tech ventures. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the entries and helping to bring the ideas of our Vodafone Techstarters to market.”

Bill Liao, Social Tech Trust commented, “We’re delighted to partner with Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation, bringing our unique experience of growing social tech ventures to Vodafone Techstarter.  We believe that valuing the social purpose of tech from the outset, combined with cross sector collaboration, is vital in achieving transformational social change at scale. We’re really excited to see the ventures that come forward.”

Notes to editors:

For more information, please visit www.vodafone.co.uk/techstarter. Applications can be submitted between 20th September and 23rd October 2018.

About Vodafone UK  

Vodafone UK is part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone Group has mobile operations in 25 countries, partners with mobile networks in 46 more, and fixed broadband operations in 18 markets. As of 30 June 2018, Vodafone Group had 534.5 million mobile customers and 19.9 million fixed broadband customers, including India and all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates. For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk

Vodafone UK partners with businesses of all sizes – from start-ups and small businesses to the largest corporates and the public sector. The company has worked with UK businesses for over 30 years, starting out as a mobile provider and becoming one of the UK’s leading total communications partners. It provides a range of voice and data services, secure communications infrastructure, fixed and contact centre capability, and unified communications; and was the first mobile phone operator to offer a truly converged service for fixed and mobile.

 

About the Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes. The Vodafone Foundation’s ‘Connecting for Good’ programme combines Vodafone’s charitable giving and technology to make a difference in the world.  Vodafone Foundation is supporting the Vodafone Techstarter Not for Profit Award that will identify and develop innovative technology solutions with social purpose. The Vodafone Foundation is a UK registered charity number 1089625.

 

About Social Tech Trust

Social Tech Trust is a leading charity and in the last decade has invested over £30 million and supported over 750 socially motivated tech ventures in the UK. Their purpose is to transform lives with tech and they’re dedicated to pursuing their vision of a world where social transformation is the driving force behind tech.  For more information, please visit: www.socialtechtrust.org or follow @SocialTechTrust on Twitter.

 

For more information please contact:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Tel: 01635 693 693

Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com


Tech to Unite Us aims to demonstrate how tech can reach its transformative potential when it’s driven by one of the greatest opportunities of our time – equality.

The UK’s leading dedicated grant maker in socially motivated tech, formerly known as Nominet Trust, is calling for eligible ventures to apply for a grant of up to £45K over a 9-12-month funding period. Technical assistance will be provided to accelerate venture growth.

The inaugural grant fund of the Trust’s Innovate Social Tech programme will support up to 10 ambitious ventures using tech in inspirational and transformative ways.

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. The charity is calling on ambitious early-stage ventures who are using tech to unite us – whether that’s using tech to increase access, opportunity or quality of outcomes in terms of wealth, health, education, political participation, community engagement or social justice.

Applications are open until Wednesday 25th July and funding decisions will be announced in October.  Read more…


In July 2017, Social Tech Trust (formerly Nominet Trust) awarded over £600,000 in funding to support six Digital Reach pilots, involving 12 partner organisations.  Each pilot trialled a unique approach to providing digital skills training developed around the aspirations of the young people they worked with.

Digital Reach was developed to support the UK’s efforts to increase digital skills among some of the nations most disadvantaged young people.  By taking a collaborative and user-centred approach that harnessed the expertise of organisations that have trusted relationships with vulnerable young people, the pilot projects pursued a mission to engage the hardest-to-reach young people with digital skills.

Social Tech Trust have released Digital Reach Insights to share what was learnt, helping to ensure that those experiencing some of the most critical social challenges in the UK are empowered to use transformative tools to tackle them.

Download the report.


Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, has increased the number of Trustees on its Board with the appointment of Hannah Keartland as Honorary Treasurer. Hannah is Head of Innovation at Cancer Research UK and previously led their award-winning Citizen Science Programme. Hannah brings with her a wealth of knowledge from her eight years’ in leadership roles in the charity sector, as well as significant capability in financial management as a qualified Chartered Accountant (AQA).

Reflecting on her appointment, Keartland said: “Nominet Trust’s work is all about creating social impact using innovative approaches – for example the recently launched Digital Reach programme, which has the potential to significantly reduce inequalities in our increasingly digital-first society. As such, it is an amazing opportunity to be joining Nominet Trust at this time and I can’t wait to lend my support in building on the Trust’s fantastic work fostering positive social change through the use of digital technology.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Hannah to the Trust during this exciting new phase of strategic development” commented Natalie Campbell, Chair of Nominet Trust. “With her direct experience of implementing and harnessing technology for social change in the health sector, Hannah will add immense value to the work of the Trust. We are confident that Hannah’s experience will help her to excel in her new role,”
During 2016, Nominet Trust extended its board significantly, including appointing new Chair, Natalie Campbell, along with Beth Murray and Jemima Rellie as trustees. The established team of trustees has great strength in its diversity, including strong representation from women.

Nominet Trust is the charitable foundation of Nominet, a public benefit company with 20 years’ experience in running the .uk internet infrastructure.


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the winners of the 2017 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition in association with Nominet Trust, at a prestigious awards ceremony at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London.

The winners include four aspiring game creators aged between 10 and 18, three of whom are female, as well as an inspirational teacher.

BAFTA YGD, which began in 2010, presents awards in two main categories: The Game Concept Award, for a written idea for a new game; and the Game Making Award, for a game made using computer software. The winners, chosen by a jury of industry experts, are:

  • Elsie Mae Williams – Game Concept Award (10-14 year-old category)
  • Anna Carter – Game Concept Award (15-18 year-old category)
  • Spruce Campbell – Game Making Award (10-14 year-old category)
  • Emily Mitchell – Game Making Award (15-18 year-old category)

The four award-winning young people will receive a host of prizes, including a mentor from the games industry to help them develop their skills further, tours of leading games studios, game development software, and a prototype of their game created by a team of developers. For the full list of prizes, go to: http://ygd.bafta.org/about-ygd/ygd-news/ygd-2017-winners-prizes

This year, the percentage of young female winners (75%) far exceeds the proportion of women currently working in the games industry in the UK, which is 19% (Ukie, 2016). In 2012, BAFTA’s Career Pathways Survey found that just 9% of the young women who responded had considered a career in games, compared to 38% of young men. The research findings informed a number of BAFTA initiatives, including YGD, which encourages all young people to consider careers in the games industry.

The YGD Mentor Award, presented to an individual nominated by the public for their involvement in the education of young game designers, was awarded to Dave Chilver, Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College in Suffolk.

The previously announced YGD Hero Award was accepted by Aurore Dimopoulos (Producer) and Josh Naylor (Senior Technical Evangelist) at Unity Technologies, creators of Unity, the largest global development platform for creating 2D, 3D, VR and AR games. The game development company was selected by the BAFTA Games Committee for its continued support for young game designers.

The YGD Awards ceremony was hosted by presenters Dev Griffin (BBC Radio 1) and Georgie Barrat (The Gadget Show). Presenting the awards were: game designer Mike Bithell (Thomas Was Alone); CITV presenter London Hughes (Scrambled!); The Xtra Factor presenter Matt Richardson; games producer Adrienne Law (Monument Valley 2); Chair of BAFTA’s Games Committee Nick Button Brown; and David Gardner, BAFTA’s Vice President for Games.

 

 

In a message of support to all the young finalists, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of BAFTA, said:

“As President of BAFTA, I am delighted to show my continued support for the BAFTA Young Game Designers initiative.

I am always so impressed with the unique ideas and game-making skills displayed by our Young Game Designers. This year’s finalists prove there is a huge amount of talent within the UK and it is tremendously exciting to see young people so passionate about a craft that could help to launch their career in the British games industry.

With a large number of entries coming through schools this year, it is encouraging to see teachers and educators regarding BAFTA’s initiative as a valuable means to equip their students with digital skills.”

Nick Button-Brown, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, said:

“The creativity and skill demonstrated by all of our YGD winners and finalists this year is hugely impressive, exciting and truly inspiring for anyone working in the industry. I’m particularly encouraged by the number of female winners this year and it’s great to see that initiatives such as YGD have inspired such a diverse and talented group of young people to try their hand at game design, with some astounding results.”

Chris Ashworth, Programme Director at Nominet Trust, said:

“At Nominet Trust, we’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people to engage in digital making, particularly girls who are under-represented in the games industry and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We’re thrilled to see that 75% of this year’s winners are female. The imagination, creativity and thought that has gone in to all of the entries has been overwhelming. Congratulations to the winners and the finalists on their achievements which will provide inspiration to many more young people.”

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum. Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity to engage under-represented groups, including women and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion, Jagex, King, Ubisoft, SEGA, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Unity and WB Games. Abertay University will support the development of the games of the winners of the BAFTA YGD competition.

For further details about the initiative, visit www.bafta.org/ygd.

BAFTA YGD winners in 2017

Game Concept Award (10-14) – TorchLighter

Elsie Mae Williams (13 years)

Penzanze, Cornwall

Your character has just been hired by TorchLighters Inc., a company that provides what is essentially janitorial services to dungeons. As an employee, you will travel to dungeons and make sure they are in working order. As the name implies, you will be lighting torches, but you will also reset traps, lock doors, make sure minions are ready to fight and occasionally perform special tasks for the bosses that hire you.

Game Concept Award (15-18) – Guzzlesarus’s Culinary Capers

Anna Carter (15 years)

Lincoln, East Midlands

Guzzlesarus’s Culinary Capers is an exciting adventure game for three to six year olds, which is all about teaching culinary skills. Each week, the parent chooses a recipe from the list which will be cooked at the end of the week with their child; at this point the ingredients list is emailed to them to save any hassle. In build up to the big culinary cook off at the end of the week, a new game arrives each day in HQ relating back to the ingredients in the recipe.

Game Making Award (10-14) – CyberPNK

Spruce Campbell (12 years)

Uckfield, East Sussex

Software: Unity 5.5 in C#

Your friends persuade you to try this amazing new VR software they just cracked. Upon entering the “Hivemind” you are accused of being a convicted criminal, sentenced to indefinite years in the game. A platforming adventure through a dangerous, corporate neon-glowing labyrinth with alternate realities.

Game Making Award (15-18) – Fractured Minds

Emily Mitchell (18 years)

Watford, Hertfordshire

Software: Unity, Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, Audacity

Fractured Minds is an immersive puzzle game that uncovers the daily struggles of people living with anxiety or any mental health issue. It is designed to give the player a genuine insight into the experiences of those quietly living with mental illness – the feelings of isolation, of being trapped, of everyday situations being distorted beyond recognition.

YGD Mentor Award

Dave Chilver, Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College

Lowestoft, Suffolk

Dave Chilver is Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College in Suffolk. Dave started teaching 10 years ago after completing his degree in Games Design and throughout his career has promoted the games as a viable career path rather than simply a media to be consumed. Outside of timetabled lessons, Dave runs several extracurricular coding and game design sessions, and for the past eight years has led the Lowestoft Game Designers Competition Club for students in the local community. The initiative has gone from strength to strength, and entries are now judged by the University of Suffolk and exhibited at the Norwich Gaming Festival. Across his career, Dave has worked tirelessly to promote computer science and game design to girls, and 46% of entrants to the Lowestoft competition last year were female, many of whom have gone on to study STEM subjects as a result.

YGD Hero Award – Unity Technologies

Unity Technologies is the creator of a flexible and high-performance end-to-end development platform used to create rich interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences. Unity’s powerful graphics engine and full-featured editor serve as the foundation to develop beautiful games or apps and easily bring them to multiple platforms: mobile devices, home entertainment systems, personal computers, and embedded systems. Unity also offers solutions and services for creating games, boosting productivity, and connecting with audiences including Unity Ads, Unity Analytics, Unity Asset Store, Unity Cloud Build, Unity Collaborate, Unity Connect and Unity Certification. Unity Technologies serves millions of registered developers including large publishers, indie studios, students and hobbyists around the globe. For more information, visit www.unity3d.com and to see the latest games and experiences created in Unity, go to madewith.unity.com.

For a full list of the winners and finalists, and to play the games in the Game Making category, go to http://ygd.bafta.org/winners-nominees


Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, is proud to announce the launch of its Digital Reach programme – a pioneering initiative developed to support the UK’s efforts to increase digital skills amongst some of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people.

By harnessing the expertise of the UK’s leading youth organisations, which have longstanding and trusted relationships with the most marginalised young people, Digital Reach will demonstrate how they are perfectly placed to steer isolated young people towards positive futures.

The Basic Digital Skills UK 2017 report suggests that, despite an overall increase in the number of UK adults who have gained basic digital skills, at least 3% (300,000) of those aged 15-24 are still being left behind. Nominet Trust’s own research indicates that it is this group that is the most likely to be facing multiple forms of disadvantage. Digital Reach has been created to respond to this national challenge by reimagining digital skills delivery to the hardest-to-reach young people in our society.

With Nominet Trust’s funding and support, Digital Reach will be implemented through a consortium of delivery partners, all renowned for their work with disadvantaged young people. The programme will initially aim to engage with 4,000 of those on the wrong side of the digital divide; the effectiveness of models to scale will also be evaluated, allowing more young people to be reached.

Nominet Trust is investing over £600,000 into the following six initiatives chosen following a rigorous selection and pitching process. Twelve organisations will be involved in developing and implementing pilots over the next nine months:

  • Action for Children: Action for Children (ACF) will digitise their current paper-based content across three employability programmes in severely deprived urban areas in Scotland.
  • Carers Trust: Carers Trust will work with Good Things Foundation to develop an e-learning resource for young adult carers as an extension to Learn My Way (the most widely used tool for digital skills delivered through libraries and community organisations). Eight Carers Trust Network Partners will use the resource to help young adult carers gain the basic digital skills they need to achieve their aspirations.
  • Home-Start and #techmums: Home-Start and #techmums will collaborate to help 500 young mothers acquire basic digital skills to overcome the challenges they face in their daily lives, helping them become more confident and to achieve their personal and professional goals.
  • The Children’s Society and City & Guilds Group: The Children’s Society and City & Guilds will engage 550 young people across the Midlands and the North of England by helping them to improve their digital skills through accredited course development.
  • UK Youth: UK Youth will use the investment to create Digital Hubs in 10 member organisations, training a youth worker and three young people to become Digital Champions. They will then work with referral and outreach partners to support the most isolated young people that are engaged with the Digital Hubs.
  • Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA: Wales Co-Operative Centre will work with YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA to engage 375 of the hardest-to-reach young people across Wales through a series of workshops and by incorporating digital literacy into existing life skills programmes.

Vicki Hearn, Director, Nominet Trust, commented: “Digitally disadvantaged young people are amongst the hardest-to-reach and we need new models to engage with them to disrupt the cycle of disadvantage and exclusion. Our evidenced approach gives us confidence that Digital Reach will have a tangible impact on the lives of those who have so far been left behind.

“Over the coming months, we will be supporting the six pilots and evaluating which are the most effective in helping disadvantaged young people acquire basic digital skills. Through Digital Reach we hope to create models that can be replicated to address the issue at scale and inspire other organisations to take a fresh look at their approaches.”

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet which founded and funds Nominet Trust, said: “Working closely with expert organisations that have existing relationships with the young people we need to reach to support their broader confidence is positive a move, not only for those young people but for the future of the digital economy. Engaging those who risk being left behind economically and digitally is vital if we are to take seriously the development of our future hiring pool and strengthen our digital skills in the UK.”

The Rt Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, said: “We are committed to closing the digital skills gap, giving everyone the knowledge and confidence to prosper in the modern economy. The work being done by Nominet Trust’s Digital Reach project, along with the Government’s Digital Skills Partnership, will play a pivotal role in encouraging and inspiring young people to find the training they need and identify digital job vacancies for them.”

To ensure Digital Reach demonstrates its social impact and generates shareable insights, evaluation will be an integral part of the programme. Nominet Trust will be working with Dr. Ellen Helsper, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science and leading digital engagement expert, to develop an evaluation framework and validate the findings.

To find out more about Digital Reach and the theory behind it, you can download our prospectus. You can keep track of our partner organisations and the progress of their pilots by following @nominettrust and #DigitalReach on Twitter.


Today, Creative England and Nominet Trust announce that Northcoders and Turinglab are the first companies to receive support from the £1million iAMDigital Fund that invests in new and established SMEs working to close the digital skills gap for people currently excluded from our digital-by-default society.

Northcoders will receive £100,000 while Turinglab has secured £75,000. Both companies met iAMDigital’s criteria, which looks for scalable SMEs that aim to improve people’s employability, whilst also supporting the growth of the creative industries by increasing and diversifying the talent pool outside London.

Almost 90% of new jobs require some degree of digital ability and according to the ONS, 72% of employers wouldn’t interview a candidate without these skills[1]. This year 745,000 additional workers[2] are needed to meet rising demand from employers, a crisis currently costing the UK £63bn a year[3].

This crisis is even more acute in regions outside London, where in some instances, people are over 20% more likely to lack the understanding they need to utilise digital technology[4].

Mehjabeen Patrick, Chief Financial Officer for Creative England said, “We’re really excited by the impressive work that Turinglab and Northcoders are doing in this space, and we look forward to working with other companies addressing the vital issue of the digital skills gap in innovative ways”

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust commented,

“As the charitable foundation of Nominet – an internet company delivering public benefit and trusted guardian of the .UK namespace – one of our aims is to increase the digital capability of society. Northcoders and Turinglab are inspiring examples of how we can increase digital engagement and we believe that their funding will significantly improve the life chances of those directly involved. We encourage other organisations with a social mission to apply now for the second round of the iAMDigital open call.”

The iAMDigital fund, aims to directly address the digital skills gap by providing investment and support for organisations outside London, and within England[5], that are using the creative industries to help create accessible pathways to digital engagement and evidence positive social impact for people of all ages.

Northcoders

Manchester-based Northcoders is a diverse and inclusive school with a uniquely Northern culture, that runs a 12-week coding bootcamp ‘Accelerate’, which aims to prepare people for a career in tech. The company is committed to increasing diversity in tech and in 2016 granted nine full-funded scholarships to women.

The company will use the £100k iAMDigital award to move to a new teaching environment in The Federation. The Federation is an initiative led by the Co-op group to build an open community of digital businesses and innovators in the heart of Manchester. Northcoders’ move will increase the classroom size for the Accelerate programme, give their students access to the tech employers based at The Federation and offer a more versatile space which will help expand their coding class offer.

The new city centre location will mean that school leavers, apprentices and university graduates taking part in the bootcamp are in the same area as the North’s most significant tech employers, meaning Northcoders are directly contributing to the digital economy.

Amul Batra of Northcoders commented: “Tech is one of the fastest growing sectors in the North and there is a real problem with having the appropriately skilled workforce to maintain pace with this growth. Funding businesses like ours who can provide the vital skills to willing learners quickly will only help the sector grow more quickly. The more people we can teach to code and get into tech employment, the more difference we can make to people’s lives.’

Turinglab

Turinglab supports children from low income backgrounds in learning to code, helping to champion diversity in tech. The company has developed project-based learning software to teach programming to children in a practical and engaging manner. Turinglab will use the £75k investment from the iAMDigital fund to help expand its programming clubs and teaching software to communities and schools across the UK.

Sam Green of Turinglab said: “We teach children through creative, practical coding projects – embodying what it means to be both creative AND digital. Too often creative practices get overlooked in favour of traditional maths and science – however creativity is a fundamental skill needed in the 21st century and must be supported with equal importance.”

In 2017, the iAMDigital programme is looking to make further investments ranging from £50,000 to £200,000, and seeks companies looking to scale-up, plus secure further investment for growth. It will measure the social impact of the ventures and identify learning to inform future strategies for increasing digital engagement amongst marginalised groups.

Find out more @nominettrust / @creativeengland /

Visit iAMDigital website:  http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/tech-and-digital/iamdigital

For more information:

Fiona McGarva

Sundae Communications

0161 711 0517 / 07786 434313

fiona@todayissundae.co.uk / @todayissundae

[1] Digital skills crisis: second report of Session 2016–17

[2] House of Commons Science and Tech Select Committee in June 2016

[3] Digital skills crisis: second report of Session 2016–17

[4] Basic Digital Skills, UK Report 2015 prepared for Go ON UK in association with Lloyds Banking Group

[5] This is a requirement of Creative England’s funding, which considers anything inside the M25 as London and everything else as outside London. To be eligible for support, an organisation’s registered office can be in London provided the beneficiaries and significant operations of the company are outside of London.


Unity Technologies to receive BAFTA YGD Hero Award

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the finalists in a nation-wide competition to find the game designers of the future, and the educators who inspire them. The winners, chosen by a panel of games professionals, will be revealed at a special awards ceremony at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London on Saturday 8 July.

The BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition, in association with Nominet Trust, gives young people the chance to design and create their own game. The initiative is now in its sixth year and has seen previous entrants go on to attract commercial interest, as well as a nomination at the British Academy Games Awards, BAFTA’s flagship ceremony for the games industry.

Forty games, made by individuals or teams of young people aged 10-18, will be vying for the Game Concept Award and Game Making Award, which recognise a written game idea, or a game made using computer software respectively. The winners of both strands, in 10-14 and 15-18 age ranges, will receive a host of prizes, including: a mentor from the games industry to help them develop their skills further, tours of leading games studios, and a prototype of their game created by a team of developers. For the list of prizes, go to: http://ygd.bafta.org/about-ygd/ygd-news/ygd-2017-winners-prizes.

The young finalists come from across England, Scotland and Wales – stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance – and one-third is female. The successful entrants include two who were also finalists in 2016. To see the full list of young finalists, and to play the games in the Game Making category, go to http://ygd.bafta.org/winners-nominees.

Five educators are in the running for the YGD Mentor Award, which is presented to an individual, nominated by the public, involved in the education of young game designers. The winner in this category will be announced at the Awards ceremony in July. The Mentor Award finalists come from schools, colleges and code clubs in Renfrewshire, West Sussex, Suffolk and Bristol. For profiles of the Mentor Award finalists, go to http://ygd.bafta.org/about-ygd/ygd-news/ygd-2017-mentor-nominees.

BAFTA is also presenting a YGD Hero Award for support for young games designers by an industry professional or development team. The winner of this award, selected by the BAFTA Games Committee, is announced today as Unity Technologies, creators of Unity, the largest global development platform for creating 2D, 3D, VR and AR games and experiences, including a free version for personal use.

Nick Button-Brown, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, said:

“Each year I’m truly inspired by the amazing games that we see and the talent, creativity and enthusiasm that all our entrants show. I never fail to be humbled by how much better their work is than what I could do at their age. The entrants to this competition will help to define the future of the games industry, and I for one look forward to seeing what they come up with and playing their games.

BAFTA Young Game Designers also recognises those who inspire the next generation, and we’re delighted to honour the companies and teams within our industry that encourage people to get involved in making games, as well as the individuals who work tirelessly to inspire the next generation of games makers to achieve their dreams. The awards ceremony in July is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate with all the winners and finalists.”

Chris Ashworth, Programme Director at Nominet Trust, said:

“Nominet Trust are delighted to support BAFTA Young Game Designers for the third consecutive year. It’s a great opportunity for young people up and down the country to take part in, and be inspired by the games industry and for the sector itself, to ignite an interest in STEM careers. Once again, we’ve been overwhelmed by the creativity and thrilled to see a sustained increase in the number of entries from girls.”

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum.

Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity addressing the under-representation of women in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion, Jagex, King, Oracle Academy, SEGA, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Unity and WB Games. Abertay University will support the development of the games of the winners of the BAFTA YGD competition. For further details about the initiative, visit www.bafta.org/ygd.


Nominet Trust has awarded £450,000 of follow-on funding to help accelerate the development of three tech for good ventures through their Social Tech Growth programme. The new funding will enable Limitless Travel, GiveVision and Konnektis to scale their operations significantly in 2017, making a huge difference to the everyday lives of thousands of people living with physical and visual impairments – as well as older people and their families.

The three ventures previously received funding through Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed programme; this offers entrepreneurial organisations early-stage investment to develop innovative projects harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies to deliver significant social change. Their success has been so striking that Nominet Trust is now providing additional funding to support their further growth and development.

 

The three ventures are:

  • Limitless Travel – an online platform that makes it much easier for disabled travellers to search and compare accommodation and book holidays that meet their individual needs. The TripAdvisor-style site is easy-to-use and offers information on the accessibility of tourist attractions and accommodation – plus city guides, attraction listings and community advice designed to bring each location to life for people with disabilities and mobility issues, or the elderly. Funding will be focused on developing technology that facilitates the collection and automation of users’ data to deliver a seamless consumer experience based on intelligent recommendations.
  • GiveVision – their SightPlus headset allows people with visual impairment to see more clearly, increasing their independence and mobility. The wearable, hands-free device uses image-enhancing software to help people with low vision, enabling them to recognise objects and faces as well as watch TV and read comfortably. The new funding will help the business grow its customer base both locally and globally.
  • Konnektis – a reliable, secure digital platform that transforms communication between formal and informal carers, helping the 2.5 million older people receiving care in their own homes. After a successful trial with Bradford Metropolitan District Council in 2016, this additional investment will help Konnektis to scale their solution with ten more local authorities in 2017.

Angus Drummond, Founder of Limitless Travel, commented: “The funds, advice and guidance Nominet Trust provides is invaluable to a young and ambitious company such as ours. With our latest funding we’ll be developing new technologies to support our customers’ needs when booking holidays and also implementing robust processes to ensure we can fulfill high volumes of orders which meet our customers’ range of complex needs. Limitless is really beginning to change the face of travel for people with disabilities and none of this would be possible without Nominet Trust”.

Elodie Draperi, Co-founder of GiveVision, said:

“Thanks to the additional funding from Nominet Trust we’re able to boost product development, undertake trials with more patients and experiment with new directions in order to improve our product’s form factor and use, all while formalising and developing its deployment in the UK and abroad.”

Mark Howells, Founder of Konnektis, commented:

“We have made significant progress over the past year with the support of Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed programme and look forward to working with them into 2018.  Working with providers of health and social care, our immediate goal is to bring Konnektis to a greater number of people living independently in our communities; Nominet Trust’s continued funding and support gives us a solid platform to deliver this.”

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust, said:

“Each of these ventures demonstrates the truly transformative power of digital technology to tackle pressing social challenges. With Nominet Trust’s support through our Social Tech Seed programme, these teams have already demonstrated their potential to deliver significant social impact. We’re confident that our Social Tech Growth funding will now enable them to scale their solutions, transforming the lives of even more people.”


Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards recognises ground-breaking orchestra for its contribution to empowering young musicians and inspiring wider participation in music creation.

South-West Open Youth Orchestra (SWOYO) was last night awarded the Learning & Participation award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, the highest recognition for live classical music-making in the United Kingdom. The orchestra was recognised for its contribution to wider participation in music creation, empowering young disabled musicians, and high quality musical experience and understanding.

SWOYO is the UK’s first disabled-led regional youth orchestra, featuring disabled and non-disabled young musicians playing conventional and electronic instruments — including the ‘Clarion’, an award-winning, accessible musical instrument that can be played with any part of the body, including the eyes. Developed by OpenUp Music, with the support of Nominet Trust funding, the Clarion is making music creation accessible, challenging expectations, and opening-up opportunities for musicians to develop their abilities — all through the creation of great music. Two SWOYO musicians play the Clarion; Bradley Warwick with his eyes and George Roberts with small, precise movements of his head.

The Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards are the highest recognition for live classical music-making in the United Kingdom were set up in 1989 to celebrate the outstanding musical achievements of both young and established, British and International, musicians. The Learning & Participation award is awarded to a project, initiative or organisation which has inspired wider participation in music-making and has created high quality musical experience and understanding.

The work of the SWOYO is also laying the foundations for the National Open Youth Orchestra, the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra, due to launch in September 2018. The National Open Youth Orchestra is calling for more young musicians to join their pioneering group. They are looking for those who have a passion for music, are between the ages of 11-25, and have the drive to play any instrument with energy and perseverance. For more information, go to www.thenoyo.org


Social tech startup Alice has launched a new tool allowing charities to increase donations by showing donors exactly what impact their money makes. The first appeal to use the new funding platform is a pilot run by St Mungo’s, the homelessness charity, to help 15 people sleeping rough in London rebuild their lives.

Alice works by “freezing” donations until charities can prove they have achieved their social goals. This means that when donors give to a charity project on Alice, their donation is guaranteed to make an impact, or they get their money back.

Alice is one of the first companies in the world to make practical use of blockchain technology in the charity sector (beyond the simple use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ether for donations). The company aims to lead a major step change in ethical fundraising, to help redress the decline of public trust in charities[1] and tap into donor demand for more information about their impact[2]. Specifically, Alice leverages blockchain ‘smart contracts’ to increase transparency and accountability. This allows Alice to:

  • Make the performance of charity projects public, and fully auditable
  • Ensure performance data is secure and extremely difficult to falsify or hack
  • Manage the conditional payment of donations based on charity performance

The first appeal, run by St Mungo’s and called Street Impact: 15 Lives, aims to help lift 15 people out of long-term rough sleeping thanks to intense personalised support. On its appeal page on Alice, St Mungo’s lists a number of specific goals it needs to achieve in order to receive donations, such as helping individuals find and then stay in a new home, with one to one support provided for up to six months after they move in to help them adapt. Other goals include helping people address any substance misuse or mental health issues that they may have.

Donors who respond to appeals such as Street Impact: 15 Lives can track when goals are met and when their gift is paid to the charity. Each appeal specifies how goals are verified, and who validates them.

Alice’s smart contracts are built on a public blockchain called Ethereum. To avoid the volatility of cryptocurrencies, donors make donations in pound sterling, using normal debit or credit cards. This innovative solution – applying the blockchain to “real world” money – is run partly in partnership with the Financial Conduct Authority, within its sandbox programme which aims to foster innovation in the financial services industry, and with Tramonex Labs, a fintech startup that issues e-money on the blockchain.

 

Raphaël Mazet, CEO, Alice, said:

“The charity sector is currently going through a crisis of public trust. We want to address that by helping trailblazing organisations like St Mungo’s, who are committed to transparency, to raise more funds for the amazing work they do. We’re excited to be launching this first pilot with an appeal that will make a really positive difference to the lives of 15 people. We hope to scale the project to help many more people if it’s successful.”

Rebecca Sycamore, Executive Director of Fundraising at St Mungo’s, said:

“People who have been sleeping rough for a long time often have complicated histories and issues they need help to tackle. This pilot gives us more flexibility than usual commissioned services do. This allows us to give these people the personalised support that we know will help them rebuild their lives away from the streets. We’re very pleased to help pilot this innovative funding platform, working with Alice and partners in Westminster and the Greater London Authority.

The pilot is being delivered using grant funding from Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed programme. Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust, commented: “Alice has real potential to rebuild public trust in charities thanks to its innovative use of blockchain technology. Nominet Trust is proud to support Alice in piloting this platform, helping to lift people out of homelessness, and raising the bar for the transparency, accountability and security of charitable giving.”

[1] Public trust in charities falls to its lowest recorded level, UK Fundraising, 2016

[2] UK charities are missing out on £665m in donations every year, The Guardian, 2013

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A new group of early-stage social tech ventures has been awarded funding by Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated tech for good funder. The funding will support the development of digital technology solutions to improve the lives of others, including wheelchair users, vulnerable people who need help navigating the legal system, stroke survivors, victims of stalking, and young asthma patients. Using a variety of leading-edge technologies, these innovators are tackling real-world social challenges and creating positive change.

Eight social tech enterprises have been selected as the latest recipients of Nominet Trust’s successful Social Tech Seed funding programme. The combined grant and support package will enable these ventures to demonstrate the potential of their social tech products and services, providing digital tech solutions to a variety of social challenges and having a positive impact on people’s lives.

 

For example, Disrupt Disability, recognised in the 2016 NT100, is transforming the way wheelchairs are designed, manufactured and distributed – with a mission to help the 52 million people worldwide who do not have access to a wheelchair that meets their needs. Their disruptive and liberating approach has at its heart an online platform of open source wheelchair designs that enable people to access, create, and adapt components to reflect specific needs, producing wheelchairs that are affordable, modular and fully customisable.

media co-op’s incident recording app has been designed to empower victims of stalking. Developed with victims, campaigners, police, public prosecutors and lawyers in Scotland, the app will transform the way victims log stalking incidents – increasing their sense of control and the chances of successful prosecutions.

TapSOS Ltd has developed an app that provides a nonverbal method of contacting the emergency services. It works to help people whose ability to communicate is compromised, for example by hearing impairments, speech impediments, breathing difficulties, or who are victims of domestic violence. With TapSOS, they can call for help without needing to speak.

 

In this seventh round of Social Tech Seed, Nominet Trust has awarded a total of £374,763. Social Tech Seed is an open grant funding programme that offers entrepreneurial organisations early-stage investment to develop innovative projects harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies to tackle social issues to improve lives. The programme supports projects tackling pressing social challenges such as the environment and sustainability, the justice system, education, employment and medicine. The eight organisations chosen will use the funding to develop their products and services further, demonstrating their social, user and financial value.

 

The other successful ventures are:

  • Corporation Pop has created Patient’s Virtual Guide, a mobile app that demystifies the hospital process for younger patients, allowing them to explore what they can expect to happen to them in hospital through a fun and stimulating game, harnessing augmented reality and beacon technology.
  • Neurofenix’s Gameball Platform revolutionises rehabilitation therapy for stroke survivors through games and social networking.
  • Tiny Medical Apps has developed Learnable – a gamified app to encourage teenagers to stick to their Personalised Asthma Action Plans.
  • Mapmyhealth is helping diabetes patients understand, engage with and self-manage their condition using digital therapeutics.
  • Just: Transcription is an automated speech-to-text service that produces fast, accurate and cost effective court transcripts, tackling the key barriers of accessibility and transparency of justice for the most vulnerable.

 

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust, said:

“The UK has a burgeoning social tech sector, but access to funding for start-ups at the very early stages of their development remains limited – yet this is crucial to enable social innovators to test their ideas and unlock the potential of digital tech to improve lives. Nominet Trust is proud to support these eight new ventures via our Social Tech Seed programme, which has been hugely successful in kick-starting dozens of similarly exciting new projects. We’re looking forward to seeing how they develop.”

Social Tech Seed has supported 40 organisations through its six cohorts to date. Previous grantees include Open Bionics, who use the latest 3D body scanning and printing technology to create bionic hands that are lightweight, take five days to fit and cost just £2,000; and Alice, an online platform harnessing blockchain technology to make charitable giving more transparent – restoring trust in charities.


Barbican Awards ceremony, sponsored by Nominet Trust, recognises digital innovation making a positive change

A new national initiative celebrating digital innovations making a positive impact on the way the UK lives, learns and does business, announced 12 winners at its inaugural awards ceremony today.

The winners of the 2017 DigitalAgenda Impact Awards, sponsored by Nominet Trust, have been recognised for the meaningful contribution they are making to change the world for the better.

The 12 winners, picked from more than 200 entries across three overarching categories – people, places and business – include literacy support software helping over 3.5 million children overcome everyday reading and writing challenges in classrooms worldwide, a network connecting businesses to ensure no edible food goes to waste and a new platform harnessing blockchain technology to ensure aid reaches its desired destination.

A panel of 12 judges* with extensive experience in startups, investment and impact technology chose the winning projects based on the innovative nature of their idea, project and their team, as well as their potential for scalability and impact.

The award-winning projects are:

People

  • Education (sponsored by Edtech UK) – Texthelp provides literacy support software for reading, writing and language learning in classrooms worldwide, helping students to overcome everyday reading and writing challenges.
  • Employment & skills (sponsored by ConnectTVT) – Founders4Schools is a charity that helps students aged 10 to 18 bridge the skills gap that bars them from entering work, connecting schools and students to an impressive network of digital business leaders.
  • Health (sponsored by Digital Catapult) – Babylon was created to put an affordable health service into the hands of everyone. As well as video GP appointments and free medicine delivery, Babylon uses artificial intelligence, which is always learning, to provide a 24/7 symptom checker service.
  • Money (sponsored by Bates Wells Braithwaite) – Squirrel is a simple bank account controlled by an app that makes it easy to budget, save, and avoid running out of money. It aims to empower users to take control of their money by putting money away so that it’s spent on what’s needed.

Places

  • Cities (sponsored by Future Cities Catapult) – Pavegen is a clean technology company looking to redefine sustainability in the built environment, with the creation of a pioneering flooring technology that generates electricity and captures data from footsteps.
  • Climate (sponsored by The Planet Mark) – Bulb is a technology-led, renewable energy supplier on a mission to transform the way energy is bought, used and produced. It gives UK homes and businesses a choice of low-cost renewable energy alongside excellent customer service.
  • Food – FoodCloud is a social enterprise connecting businesses that have surplus food with local charities and community groups, helping ensure no edible food goes to waste.
  • Smart (sponsored by Design for Social Change) – Wayfindr is a non-profit on a mission to empower the 285 million people living with sight loss worldwide to take new journeys, increase confidence and open up new opportunities for relationships, employment and cultural experiences. Its open standard is designed to help make places and spaces more accessible.

Business

  • Business transformation – Saberr creates happy, high-performing teams through software that helps people work well together, using data collection and algorithms to predict and improve performance.
  • Investment (sponsored by GP Bullhound) – ClearlySo ATLAS is a digital platform created to assess the social and environmental impact of businesses and investment portfolios. Developed jointly by ClearlySo and Reason Digital, ATLAS encourages more ethical and sustainable investment by making it easy to produce investment strategies that are not just for financial gain but also for the greater good.
  • Sharing & partnership – Neighbourly is a social platform that connects local projects with people and businesses that want to help. It connects local community and charity projects with companies and people that can help by giving donations of time, money or surplus food.
  • Social and economic transformation – AID:Tech harnesses blockchain technology to ensure that every donated resource – financial, medical supplies, food or blankets – is traceable at the point of use, ensuring that the right people receive the right help at the right time.

Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading social tech funder, was the headline sponsor for the DigitalAgenda Impact Awards. Vicki Hearn, director of Nominet Trust, said:

“We’re incredibly proud to support DigitalAgenda in championing the pioneers using digital technology to enable positive change, and in raising the profile of the flourishing tech for good sector in the UK. Through our grant funding, partnerships and annual NT100, it is clear that Nominet Trust shares with DigitalAgenda a belief in the transformative power of digital technology when creatively applied to social challenges. It has been an honour to recognise these inspiring entrepreneurs and to celebrate their achievements.”

DigitalAgenda director and editor Julian Blake, who has led the creation of the Impact Awards, said:

“Technology isn’t seen by everyone as a force for good. There’s actually a tense relationship between the public and technology, with understandable fears about its effect on fundamentals like privacy, work and even happiness. But digital offers to answer some of the big challenges we face. Digital has the potential to deliver positive change fast, and at scale. It is changing the way children learn. It is making people healthier. It is improving public services. It helps us respond to people movements and floods. And it helps us understand global trends.

The Impact Awards highlight the extraordinary potential for technology to be a positive force and celebrate technology that is being used for impact, not just for profit.”

The ceremony took place at London’s Barbican Centre, with speakers including:

  • Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project
  • Mike Bracken – head of digital from Co-op
  • The team from BBC2’s Big Life Fix
  • Sue Black from #techmums/Saving Bletchley Park – and the winner of a special editor’s Impact Award on the day for her outstanding contribution to technology for good.
  • The event also featured a Nominet Trust innovator showcase featuring groundbreaking tech for good startups GiveVision and Open Bionics.

Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) – Europe’s first impact investment start-up accelerator – celebrates the fifth anniversary of its accelerator by announcing £1.3m new investment from Big Society Capital, Nominet Trust and Nesta.This is the first time that Big Society Capital has backed an accelerator programme. Big Society Capital join BGV’s founding partners Nesta and Nominet Trust.Since first opening applications in March 2012 BGV’s accelerator has invested £1.4m in 86 startups that use technology to address major social and environmental problems – BGV describes these as ‘tech for good’ startups.BGV currently has 56 active tech for good startups in its portfolio, that have raised over £23m in further funding between them, and are estimated to have benefited over 6.5m people with their products and services*. Notable success stories include Fairphone, the world’s first modular sustainable mobile phone, and DrDoctor, the hospital bookings system used by over 4 million NHS patients (case studies available on request).This new funding will be used to expand BGV’s operations, to build further partnerships and to develop later stage impact investment products for tech for good startups.* reported data as at January 2017.

Commenting on the need to expand BGV’s current model, which combines a 12-week accelerator with £20,000 investment, BGV CEO Paul Miller said:

“We’ve proved our accelerator model works, but it’s not enough on its own. Startups require ongoing support and funding to scale up their operations, this is especially true for startups focused on social impact. Last year we expanded our offer by being able to invest up to £50,000 in great teams after the accelerator stage. This year we’re planning a fund to be able to back alumni and other tech for good ventures with next stage capital. This will help to plug a notable hole in seed-stage impact investment available to startups in the tech for good space.”

Big Society Capital is the UK’s biggest wholesale investor into impact investment. Tom Bennett, Investment Director at Big Society Capital said:

“Bethnal Green Ventures has consistently lead the way in building early stage technology ventures that are helping to tackle some of the UK’s most challenging social problems. Big Society Capital are delighted to be able to help fund the next stage of Bethnal Green Ventures’ growth. We look forward to working with the Bethnal Green Ventures’ team to help use technology to deliver a better society.”

Nominet Trust has pioneered funding and support for tech for good ventures through its Social Tech Seed grant funding programme and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100. Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust said:

“By supporting entrepreneurs who are using digital technology to enable positive change, BGV is playing a crucial role in growing the UK’s tech for good ecosystem and in consolidating our country’s global reputation for creative tech for good ventures. Nominet Trust is committed to ensuring this success continues; we’re proud to have been a founding partner of BGV and are excited to announce our renewed support today. BGV is a big part of the UK’s tech for good sector and, in helping them to grow, we’re also helping the sector to go from strength to strength.”

Nesta is the UK’s Innovation Foundation and has supported Bethnal Green Ventures. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive said:

“Nesta is proud to have been involved with BGV from its launch. Since then 10 cohorts of socially motivated business start-ups have been supported by BGV who’ve shown how intensive support can help entrepreneurs turn promising ideas into credible ‘profit with purpose’ businesses. We’re now delighted to be part of their next phase, with a fantastic group of partners bringing not only money but also knowledge and networks too.”


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is calling for entries for the 2017 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition, in association with Nominet Trust, which aims to inspire the UK’s game designers and game-makers of the future by giving young people the chance to design and make their own game. Entries are now open at http://ygd.bafta.org/ and will close on Wednesday 3 May.

The winners will be named at a special awards ceremony in July at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London, attended by stars of the games industry. The successful entrants will receive further development for their winning game, mentoring by games professionals, visits to games studios, and a host of other prizes.

 

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. The games sector makes a significant cultural and economic contribution to the UK. In 2016 UK consumers spent £2.96bn on boxed, downloaded and mobile games, which generated 2.6 times more revenue than music sales, and 1.3 times more than video sales (Entertainment Retailers Association 2017).

The competition, which attracted over 1,000 entries in 2016 alone, has been designed so that young people can enter in their own time, as part of a lesson in school, within a coding club, or as an additional homework challenge set by their teacher. To support teachers and code club leaders, BAFTA has created a range of free online teaching resources, which link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum, and can be downloaded for free (http://ygd.bafta.org/resources). BAFTA is also hosting teacher workshops and game design opportunities around the UK. For further details, and to hear insights and advice from BAFTA members, award winners and nominees, visit http://ygd.bafta.org/.

Now in its seventh year, the main YGD competition is aimed at 10-18 year-olds, divided into age-specific sub-groups. Entrants can be individuals or a team of up to three people, who can choose to enter two creative categories: The YGD Game Concept Award, for those creating a concept for a new game; and the YGD Game Making Award, for those making a game using freely available software. Dan Pearce, a YGD winner in 2010, was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2013, and his game Castles in the Sky earned him a BAFTA nomination for Debut Game in 2014. This month, the winners of BAFTA YGD 2016 visited Dundee to view builds of their games developed by students at Abertay University.

For a third year, two awards will recognise contributions by adults: The YGD Mentor Award, nominated by the public, is for an inspirational individual involved in the education of young game designers; and the YGD Hero Award, for support for young games designers by an industry professional or development team, chosen by BAFTA’s Games and Learning & New Talent Committees. Ray Chambers, Head of Computing at Brooke Weston Academy, won the YGD Mentor Award in 2015 and has since gone on to win the UK National Teaching Award, and is currently a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize.

Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity addressing the under-representation of women in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion, Jagex, King, Oracle Academy, SEGA, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Unity and WB Games.

Tim Hunter, Director of Learning and New Talent at BAFTA, said:

“The BAFTA YGD competition is a great way for young people to explore their creativity and the craft of game design. Not only are students given the opportunity to design their own game, but to receive direct feedback from industry professionals and are able to see their idea be made into a reality. Each year, our finalists demonstrate just how much young talent is out there which makes us feel very optimistic about the future of the games industry, and we can’t wait to see this year’s entries.”

Chris Ashworth, Programme Director at Nominet Trust, said:

“The Young Game Designers competition provides an exciting opportunity for young people from across the UK to develop and enhance their creative digital skills through making and designing games. For a third consecutive year, Nominet Trust is proud to support the programme in engaging under-represented groups to pursue careers in game design – encouraging more entries from girls to help close the industry’s gender gap, and inspiring young people from all backgrounds to develop their digital skills. We’re looking forward to seeing the imagination and creativity in this year’s entries.”

For the Terms & Conditions, and to enter the BAFTA YGD competition, go to http://ygd.bafta.org/


Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading tech for good funder, and The Baring Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged groups, have today announced the five organisations that will receive a total of £406,231 in funding to develop new innovations to engage the over 65s in the creative arts.

The new Digital Arts & Creative Ageing fund, which launched in June 2016, will address  widespread social isolation amongst the over 65s, improving health and wellbeing to help older people to live more autonomous and integrated lives. Research from Age UK has found that more than one million over 65s feel “always” or “very” lonely, which can have as damaging an impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Age UK, 2015)1.

The five projects were chosen for their imaginative application of digital technology and their ability to scale and extend existing creative arts initiatives to the over 65s.  The successful projects are:

64 Million Artists: ‘Do, Think and Share’

Do, Think and Share is a collaboration between 64 Million Artists and Leicester Ageing Together. They aim to unlock human potential through a culture of creativity. The platform uses digital prompts and how-to videos to invite people to perform creative tasks they wouldn’t normally do, such as painting a self-portrait, then sharing what they’ve done and discussing the effect it had on their thoughts and feelings. The initiative takes place in small groups, which are facilitated digitally, so people can participate regardless of their physical ability.

Ashton Community Trust: ‘Digital Makers’

Digital Makers is a pioneering creative arts programme that gives older people in North Belfast the opportunity to make new friendships while trying out cutting-edge digital manufacturing equipment and learn new skills in a FabLab – a digital, design and fabrication laboratory. Groups of older people with a passion for arts and creativity, but to whom digital skills are new, are invited to create 2D and 3D digital craft products in an engaging and supportive environment. Professional artists will inspire and challenge them to use the digital tools to ignite their creativity.

Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company: ‘Digital Doris’

Digital Doris is a portable digital ‘kit’ which helps give older people the freedom to express themselves through movement and dance. The digital technology transforms everyday spaces into creative places to enable the user to interact with a projected digital version of themselves to create movement-based performance.

Ladder to the Moon: ‘Changing older people’s lives through interactive drama’

Ladder to the Moon is creating an online platform that enables older people living in care, and particularly those experiencing dementia, to benefit from interactive drama. The platform will empower staff in these care services with the skills, knowledge, guidance and materials to deliver interactive drama sessions. It will provide access to online play scripts, printable props, demonstration and teaching videos, and rehearsal exercises, enabling more of the estimated 70% of people living with dementia in UK care homes2 to benefit from this proven approach.

City Arts: ‘Armchair Gallery’

The Armchair Gallery App enables digital access to cultural collections for older people whose circumstances do not permit regular physical visits to museums and art galleries. The Armchair Gallery allows the over 65s to enjoy and appreciate a range of artwork through a series of virtual visits to arts and cultural venues, whilst raising curiosity and a deeper understanding about digital technology.

 

“With government projections suggesting almost 20% of the 20% of the UK population will be over 65 by 20243, we need to find new ways to combat loneliness and support those wanting to engage in purposeful activity,” said Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust. “We’ve seen how digital technology has the ability to enhance the lives and communities of the most vulnerable and isolated members of society.  I look forward to seeing how these five wonderful initiatives enable older people to participate in the joy of creative arts and deliver wide ranging benefits to their health and wellbeing.”

David Cutler, Director, The Baring Foundation, commented: “The pace of technology is moving faster than ever before, but this new investment fund plays an integral role in making sure the older generation aren’t left behind. These five projects bring creative arts to the over 65s in new and innovative ways, helping to keep them mentally engaged and socially included. We’re really looking forward to working with the teams over the coming months to support their growth and maximise the social impact that they can deliver.”

The five organisations will use the funding from Nominet Trust and The Baring Foundation to develop and scale their products and services to create sustainable and financially viable business models. More information about the Digital Arts & Creative Ageing fund can be found here.

[1] Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life; Age UK (2015)
[2] Alzheimer’s Society, Facts on dementia: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=535&pageNumber=2
[3] Office for National Statistics, Overview of the UK population, (February 2016)


Over one third of the projects in the 2016 NT100 revealed today by Nominet Trust – the UK’s leading tech for good funder – are inspired by people who have a personal connection to the challenges they are tackling with digital tech. Motivated by a desire to disturb the status quo for the greater good, this year’s Everyday Tech Heroes include individuals tackling everything from local injustices to issues that affect us all as a global community.

Here are just some of the amazing NT100 projects created by inspirational Everyday Tech Heroes:

Social inclusion

The World Health Organisation estimate that over 65 million people need a wheelchair to live an independent life, yet 80% do not have access to one that meets their needs due to the cost of customisation. Rachael Wallach was just 18 when an injury left her with impaired mobility but luckily received a grant from the Snowdon Trust to buy a lightweight wheelchair. Recognising that others were less fortunate, Rachael established Disrupt Disability to bring together a nascent community of makers. This virtual community is working together to build the first online library of free, open-source designs that can be easily adapted to produce customised, low-cost, 3D-printed wheelchairs, giving equality of opportunity for freedom and independence.

Another hugely inspiring project is the South-West Open Youth Orchestra (SWOYO). Bradley Warwick’s biggest dream was to perform in an orchestra, but his cerebral palsy made this seemingly impossible. In 2015, OpenUp Music launched the SWOYO – the UK’s only disabled-led regional youth orchestra. Using cutting-edge digital technology developed by OpenUp Music, Bradley can now use his eyes to play a specially adapted instrument alongside other young people in the orchestra.

Lise Pape’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease ten years ago. Having suffered severe side effects from prescription medication, her father then started to experience Freezing of Gait (FoG) a sudden inability to move where the feet feel as if they are glued to the floor, which can result in dangerous falls. One in three people aged 65 or over experience a fall each year; Lise set out to find a way to help them and her father. While studying for a Masters in Innovation Design Engineering in London, she discovered that visual cues can help trigger movement during ‘FoG’ by focusing the person’s attention. Lise went on to create two products; Path Finder, which emits a laser beam to encourage movement; and Path Feel, a shoe insole that helps wearers to feel the floor better by providing active feedback.

Humanitarian response

There are approximately 60 million displaced people around the world. Moreover, with a severe lack in critical post-disaster supplies, up to $100 billion is spent responding to crises every year. Aid buyers face a constant battle with a slow procurement process and often need to compare at least three quotes to satisfy audit guidelines. Stephanie Cox experienced this frustration first-hand during the Ebola Crisis when her search for water filters kept coming up empty. This led her to develop ‘The Level Market’ (TLM) to provide ‘Amazon-like’ services adapted to aid workers’ needs, helping to reduce response times during crises. TLM allows buyers to compare products directly, and receive custom pricing and delivery quotes using one form, rather than making multiple enquiries.

When Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) responded to a major outbreak of measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015, they sent in hundreds of vaccination teams to cover such a huge area of land. However, their work was disrupted by hours spent navigating difficult terrain and trying to locate those in need. Motivated by this challenge, MSF’s Peter Masters created the Missing Maps project to help the doctors identify areas with vulnerable populations that aren’t always visible using tools such as Google Maps. Using satellite images from OpenStreetMap, Peter and his team developed MapSwipe – an app that allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to scan thousands of satellite images of unmapped areas and tap once if they see roads or buildings, twice if they are unsure and three times if the area is not visible due to cloud coverage. The app has already been downloaded 9,000 times and has 7,000 active users who have already surveyed over 420,000km of imagery.

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust, commented: “Digital technology is now accessible to more people in more locations and in more ways than ever before. These innovative projects created by our Everyday Tech Heroes are testament to that and demonstrate how powerful social tech can be in tackling a wide breadth of issues regardless of magnitude, geography or budget. NT100 gives these pioneers the platform to inspire others to address inequality, making the world a better place for everyone.”

To find out more about these examples, or other Everyday Tech Heroes that feature in the 2016 NT100, please contact us on +44 (0) 208 408 8000 or nt100@wildfirepr.com.


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the winners of the 2016 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition in association with Nominet Trust, at a prestigious awards ceremony at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London.

The winners include four aspiring game creators aged between 10 and 18, as well as an inspirational teacher. Media Molecule, the makers of the multi-BAFTA-winning puzzle platform games LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2, received the previously announced YGD Hero Award.

BAFTA YGD, now in its sixth year, presents awards in two main categories: The Game Concept Award, for a written idea for a new game; and the Game Making Award, for a game made using computer software. The winners, chosen by a jury of industry experts, are:

  • Game Concept Award (10-14 year-old category): Aysheq Hussain, aged 13, from Birmingham, with the game Imagibots – Save Eden Green.
  • Game Concept Award (15-18 year-old category): Nic Gordon, aged 18, from Derby, with the game YOU ARE BEING FOLLOWED.
  • Game Making Award (10-14 year-old category): Charlie Thurston, aged 14, from Forest Row in East Sussex, with the game Apocalypse Alpha.
  • Game Making Award (15-18 year-old category): Daniel Smith, aged 18, from Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, with the game Spectrum.

The four award-winning young people will receive a host of prizes, including further development of their game with industry experts. For the full list of prizes, go to: http://bit.ly/YGDPrizes2016

The YGD Mentor Award, presented to an individual nominated by the public for their involvement in the education of young game designers, was awarded to Michael Warburton, Head of Games Development at Cambridge Regional College and creator of Rizing Games – the first FE educational commercial games development studio in the country.

The YGD Hero Award was accepted by Alex Evans and Siobhan Reddy, Technical Director and Studio Director at Media Molecule. The games studio was selected by the BAFTA Games Committee for its continued support for young game designers.

The YGD Awards ceremony was hosted by CBBC presenter Ben Shires (Officially Amazing) and games journalist Jane Douglas. Presenting the awards were: BBC Radio 1 presenter Dev Griffin; actress Amy-Leigh Hickman (The Dumping Ground, EastEnders); Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie (UK Interactive Entertainment); and games scriptwriter Rhianna Pratchett (Tomb Raider, Heavenly Sword).

In a message of support to all the young finalists, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of BAFTA, said:

“When I met the winners of the 2015 competition, I saw for myself the remarkable game ideas and game-making skills of young people today and I am once again very impressed by the unique ideas of this year’s finalists.

“The games industry continues to be one of the most successful, creative and fastest growing in the country and I am pleased to see so many young people taking advantage of this exciting opportunity – one which could well launch their careers as the next big thing in British games.”

The Duke also praised the high number of entries which came through schools this year “highlighting the growing enthusiasm by teachers and educators to consider games as an art form and a viable career.”

Harvey Elliott, who comes to the end of his term as Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, said:

“Once again, we are overwhelmed by the amount of talent showcased in this competition by all of our finalists and today’s very deserving winners. The creativity exhibited through the BAFTA YGD Awards each year demonstrates the wealth of young talent available to the games industry, and it is a great privilege for BAFTA to play such an active role in nurturing and celebrating the game makers of tomorrow. We are always greatly indebted to the educators who continue to inspire creativity in their students and support the initiative, with special thanks this year to our YGD Mentor Award winner Michael Warburton.”

Edward Evans, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Nominet Trust, said:

“We are thrilled to be supporting BAFTA’s Young Game Designers competition once again, helping young people make the transition from game consumers to game makers, particularly girls, who make up one third of this year’s finalists. We were hugely impressed by the calibre of the applications this year, which made the judging very hard. The finalists demonstrated real creativity and skill and we congratulate all the winners and finalists on their amazing achievements.”

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum.

Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity addressing the under-representation of women in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion Games (an EA Studio), Google, Jagex, Pinewood Games, SEGA, Sony Computer Entertainment UK, Unity, Ubisoft and WB Games UK. Abertay University supports the development of the games of the winners of the BAFTA YGD competition. For further details about the initiative, visit www.bafta.org/ygd.

BAFTA YGD winners in 2016:

Game Concept Award (10-14) – Imagibots – Save Eden Green

Aysheq Hussain (13)

Birmingham

One day out of the blue, Professor Eden received a telephone call from the Mayor of Eden Green. It was terrible news, there was a massive asteroid on a collision course for the village and apparently there was nothing the government could do to save Eden Green from being obliterated.

Game Concept Award (15-18) – YOU ARE BEING FOLLOWED

Nic Gordon (18)

Derby

YOU ARE BEING FOLLOWED is a story-driven game, containing puzzle and exploration elements. You control of Emma, a blind woman, driven by paranoia to leave the noise of her home in a bustling metropolis in pursuit of a place of complete silence.

Game Making Award (10-14) – Apocalypse Alpha

Charlie Thurston (14)

Forest Row in East Sussex

The world has been ravaged by a deadly and mysterious infection known as The Judgement, the lucky ones are dead and the minds of survivors are destroyed. Society crumbles and those left with their humanity intact must fight to survive. Throughout the game you must scavenge for supplies and weapons, fight your way through the hordes of Infected and reach the Airbase in one piece. You’ll make friends and enemies, but in the end it’s every man for himself.

Game Making Award (15-18) – Spectrum

Daniel Smith (18)

Gateshead in Tyne and Wear

SPECTRUM is a mind-bending first person puzzler that challenges you to switch colours and manipulate gravity in order to escape a digital labyrinth. You don’t know why you’re there or what the purpose of the place is. The only way to navigate the chambers is completing increasingly challenging puzzles, the more you overcome, and the more you learn the dark secrets this digital place hides.

YGD Mentor Award

Michael Warburton, Head of Games Development at Rizing Games, Cambridge Regional College

Michael Warburton is Head of Games Development at Cambridge Regional College. As part of his work in leading the BTEC Level 3 Computer Games Development Course, he has created Rizing Games – the first FE educational commercial games development studio in the country. As part of Rizing Games, Michael’s students now run a stall at E3 every June and continue to be the only UK-based college or University to attend and exhibit commercially released games.

The nine other finalists, nominated by the public, were:

  • Amanda Wilson – Volunteer Computing Expert at West College, Scotland
  • Graham Foucher – Games Development Lecturer at South Essex College
  • Matthew Applegate, Founder of Creative Computing Club in Suffolk
  • Matthew McGrory – Senior Lecturer in Games Art & Design (Designer) at Teesside University
  • Patricia West – Teacher of ICT and Computing at Horndean College
  • Ryan Laley – Student Manager and Lecturer at South Essex College
  • Simon Webb – Code Club Leader and Curator of the Museum of Computing in Swindon
  • Terry Watts – Head of Computing & IT at Cotham School, Bristol
  • Vee Lakhani – Subject leader for ICT/Computing at Chesham Grammar School

YGD Hero Award

Media Molecule

Media Molecule is a game development studio based in Guildford . Founded in 2006 by a group of like-minded friends looking for new creative challenges, Media Molecule has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the industry’s most pioneering developers, constantly pushing the boundaries between the player and the creator. Whilst maintaining a small family feel, Media Molecule has gone on to develop BAFTA-winning, critically acclaimed titles such as LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Tearaway. The studio consistently aims to tell beautiful and compelling stories that give players the power to go forth and create their own adventures and their own worlds.

For a full list of the winners and finalists, and to play the games in the Game Making category, go to http://bit.ly/YGDnoms2016


Leading charities Nominet Trust and The Baring Foundation have today launched a £500,000 fund for digital tech solutions to engage older people in the creative arts – from painting and sculpture to singing and drama.

The Digital Arts & Creative Ageing programme kicks off today with an open call for applications. It will offer forward thinking organisations the chance to receive grant funding of up to £90,000, plus business support to scale existing creative arts services. The successful applicants will demonstrate how digital tech is being used effectively as a medium or tool to engage the over 65s in the creative arts.

The two-year project will be spearheaded by two organisations well known for their work in addressing social challenges. Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading tech for good funder while The Baring Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust said:

“Through our grant funding, partnerships and the NT100, we see extraordinary examples of how the internet and digital technologies are tackling a broad range of social challenges, across numerous sections of society. This partnership with The Baring Foundation will explore how grant funding can make a difference in supporting the development of scalable and sustainable models for using digital technology to engage older people in the creative arts. I’m excited to see how pioneering organisations working at the fusion of these sectors can deliver innovative digital engagement projects, extending enjoyment of the arts to those of more advanced years.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, over 65s account for almost 20% of the UK’s population – a 47% increase since the mid-70s1 . According to Age UK, over 1million people aged 65 and over feel “always” or “very” lonely, which the organisation claims can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Age UK, 2015)2 .

Following a recent report ‘Technically Older’ by The Baring Foundation (2015), there is now significant evidence to indicate that providing access to digital arts has positive benefits to the general health and wellbeing of older people3`. This improvement in health and wellbeing has an economic knock-on effect as it decreases the public cost of looking after older people on the NHS as well as other social care services; which currently equates to two-thirds of total expenditure (Kings’ Fund, 2015)4.

David Cutler, Director of The Baring Foundation, said:

“We know that access to enjoying the arts has unquestionable benefits for health and wellbeing of the over 65s. At the same time there can be little doubt as to how digital inclusion has the ability to further enhance older people’s access to the arts. Our new partnership with Nominet Trust recognises this and works to give the UK’s ageing population further access to the arts through the use of digital technology.”

The programme is designed to support the scale and sustainability of existing service providers. Successful applications will not only demonstrate how they engage older people in the creative arts to enhance their health and wellbeing, but will also demonstrate a financially sound businesses model that has the potential to be self-sustaining.

About The Baring Foundation

The Baring Foundation was established in 1969 by Baring Brothers Bank and since 1995 has been an independent funder. It tackles discrimination and disadvantage throughstrengthening civil society in the UK and abroad. The arts are one of the Foundation’s three funding strands and since 2010 this programme has focussed on arts with and by older people. A brief account of this work entitled ‘Getting On’ can be found on the Foundation’s website: www.baringfoundation.org.uk