Our 2021 AI for Social Impact programme aimed to support the UK healthcare and manufacturing industries to recover faster and better from the pandemic. Our Portfolio Manager, Kathy Marcham reflects on the impact of this year’s programme.
In 2021, we partnered with Microsoft and Microsoft for Start-ups for the third consecutive year, this time focusing on a programme designed to support the UK to build back better. Thirteen companies were selected to be part of AI for Social Impact 2021 – all focussed on helping the UK’s healthcare, manufacturing and resource sectors recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Understanding our value
The programme not only intended to develop the business acumen of these purpose driven ventures, but also to support them in embedding impact management at the core of their organisation.
At Social Tech Trust we see huge benefit in engaging expertise from across the social tech ecosystem and this collaborative approach is central to the programmes we deliver. It was incredible to see how the core delivery team, external partners and the cohort themselves engaged in the programme fully, despite it being delivered in an entirely virtual environment due to the pandemic.
We understand the importance of building a community and the value of peer learning and support, so worked hard to engage the cohort through Microsoft Teams and through our online alumni community, Social Tech Peers. Medishout who have developed a digital platform and app to improve operational efficiencies in hospitals, welcomed the peer networking as it gave them, “ the opportunity to share their experience and network with other start-ups who have similar aspirations of creating positive impact.”
Recognition where it’s due
In such an exceptional year I am especially inspired by this cohort and how they are shaping our world for the better. Many of them are already being recognised for the value they bring, for example, Fabriq, an IoT platform designed for those committed to making buildings more sustainable, have recently been listed in the top 20 ‘Tech for Impact’ companies for Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and data reporting in the built-environment sector.
SafetyNet Technologies, a start-up that provides trusted solutions to enable sustainable practices in the fishing industry have recently been selected by Solve – MIT as a Solver team finalist in the Resilient Ecosystems category at the #SolveChallengeFinals. They have also won further financial support from the Minderoo Foundation and GSR – to provide further support in delivering their mission to enable precision fishing.
Medishout have also recently been recognised in the top 101 English Hospital Start ups – the list showcases start-ups and companies innovating in the healthcare space. They are also finalists in the Health Tech Challengers award which identifies the health tech start-ups of tomorrow.
Different stages of their journey
The ventures in the cohort were at different stages in their journey – some still developing their value proposition and business models, whilst others were at the point of income generation or raising initial funding.
CanSense, an organisation developing an accurate, rapid, non-invasive, blood diagnostic for the early detection of Cancer using Spectroscopy and AI-based technologies, were very early on in their journey to address this challenge. When Adam Bryant, CEO and Founder of CanSense was asked about the impact of the programme, he said:
“Working with Social Tech trust has been enlightening. We have re-engineered the business model to have social impact more at the core of what we are trying to achieve as a business. ”
NeuerEnergy are in launch mode, aiming to help businesses simplify and streamline their net-zero journey through SaaS applications and a platform. Following the programme they are ensuring that social impact is truly embedded within their organisation so they are able to clearly articulate their impact to future joiners.
C the Signs is a digital platform that uses AI to identify patients at risk of cancer at the earliest and most curable stage of the disease. They are at a later stage in their journey and are covering the entire spectrum of cancer, supporting early cancer detection of children and young people, people with physical and learning disabilities and the elderly. Throughout the pandemic, they have been able to support the most vulnerable in society, facilitating remote risk assessment and referral of patients from their own home. They are looking to communicate their social impact effectively to new customers and to demonstrate the social impact and value they have to patients and healthcare organisations.
Whatever the stage of their impact journey, every venture in the AI for Social Impact cohort is now equipped to pursue the change they want to see in the world and have the tools and know how to measure and manage their impact. This programme has supported them to grow sustainable businesses with impact at the core of their organisation.