Bethnal Green Ventures secures slice of Social Incubator Fund to back start-ups

The Cabinet Office has allocated the first commitments from its Social Incubator Fund, with Bethnal Green Ventures one of the beneficiaries.

Bethnal Green Ventures, an accelerator for technology-based social ventures, has secured a £1.8 million investment from the government’s Social Incubator Fund.

The cash will be used to offer £15,000 investments to 20 early-stage social technology ventures a year, in return for a six per cent stake. Bethnal Green Ventures says that this will allow successful applicants to focus on their start-up full time for 12 weeks.

The Social Incubator Fund has invested £900,000 in the programme, with matched funding coming from Nesta and Nominet Trust.

The new ventures will be based at Nesta, an independent charity which serves as the UK’s innovation foundation, as well as at Google Campus in Shoreditch.

Paul Miller, partner at Bethnal Green Ventures, comments, ‘Our aim is to provide investment and support to people who really understand social challenges so that they can build social, technology ventures to improve the lives of millions.

‘With this backing from the Cabinet Office, Nesta, Nominet Trust and Google Campus we’ll be able to do that for twenty new ventures a year, giving more people the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality.’

Bethnal Green Ventures has already run two programmes since it launched in 2011 and has so far incubated 12 start-ups. Businesses moving through its initiative include hospital patient bookings venture DrDoctor and ethical mobile phone Fairphone. It was started by Paul Miller, founder of School of Everything and author of Nesta’s report on the rising trend of tech accelerators, Glen Mehn, manning director of Social Innovation Camp, and Lily Sakula, who has worked supporting social businesses at the Hub and the Young Foundation.

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Matt Mead, chief investment officer at Nesta, says, ‘Nesta has been working with Bethnal Green Ventures for the last two years and we are delighted that we have this opportunity to scale-up the impact that the programme can have on the early-stage investment market.

‘In November 2012, Nesta announced the launch of Nesta Impact Investments, a venture fund to help scale social impact innovations; we hope that together with Bethnal Green Ventures and the programme partners we can help grow the impact that technology can have on social issues.’

Alongside the capital and office space, Keystone Law is providing legal advice to the ventures.

Applications for the 2013 programme starting in the summer open on 6 March. Workshops will also be run throughout March and April for interested applicants.

Telefonica’s venture capital outfit Wayra is also receiving a portion of the Social Incubator Fund. The £1.2 million of public will help fund 30 companies over the next two years.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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