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Vodafone unveils finalists for first Techstarter awards

January 16, 2019

Programme celebrates start-ups developing and using technology as a force for good

Vodafone has today announced the finalists for its inaugural Vodafone Techstarter awards. The programme aims to uncover and develop ideas that 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.

The twelve shortlisted organisations, both profit and not-for-profit, all have prototype ideas with a clearly defined social purpose. The ventures exploit a range of technologies from mobile apps to the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.

The finalists are: Alexandra Rose Charity, Code 4000 UK CIC, Full Fact, The Church of England’s Children’s Society, The Integrate Agency CIC, Wayfindr, BfB Labs, Good.Loop Ltd, Lettus Grow, BlakBear Ltd, Walk With Path Ltd and Alice SI Ltd. For more information, please see below.

In addition to sharing a prize fund of £300K, 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.

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK commented: “We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. Vodafone Techstarter is about recognising and celebrating how UK start-ups are helping shape society for the better; we want to empower small businesses to truly make a difference in society. I’m really excited to meet the finalists and see first-hand the impact their ideas and innovations could have.”

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said: “It’s fantastic to see such an inspiring group of social tech innovations make the Vodafone Techstarter shortlist.  All of them are driven by social purpose and are making a positive contribution to people’s lives.  We look forward to working with the winning teams to help them grow and scale their social impact.”

The Vodafone Techstarter winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 7th February.

Vodafone Techstarter shortlist[1]:

  • Alexandra Rose Charity (Surrey) – Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Project (RVP) – supports families on low income to avoid food poverty and access a healthy diet through providing vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Code 4000 UK CIC (Hampshire) – Global Prison Curriculum Build – provides vocational training in computer programming with a view to enhancing the employability of ex-offenders, and to help to reduce reoffending
  • Full Fact (London) – Automated Fact checking – its tools enable them to stop the spread of fake news, and identify and fact check some claims automatically in real time
  • The Church of England’s Children’s Society (London) – Reality Check – pioneers the use of immersive virtual reality environments to help children manage and overcome anxiety, thereby addressing a root cause of more serious issues
  • The Integrate Agency CIC (London) – Padlock – an online platform connecting businesses with freelance cybersecurity powered by up-skilling lone parents in marketable cyber skills
  • Wayfindr (London) – Wayfindr – gives vision impaired people the power to navigate complex indoor environments independently, underpinned by smartphone technology and high-quality user experience standards
  • BfB Labsa mobile game to tackle anxiety – in young people by combining the most effective elements of cognitive behavioural therapy with an immersive gaming experience
  • Good.Loop Ltd (Edinburgh) – Good.Loop – an ethical video ad platform enabling brands to connect social purpose with better viewer experience and better ad performance
  • LettUs Grow (Bristol) – LettUs Grow – designs aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for indoor and vertical farms to help deliver higher crop yields, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture
  • BlakBear Ltd (London) – BlakBear Agri – uses new sensors and software to increase the yield farmers can get from their land to feed a growing world sustainably. It combines electrochemical sensing innovations with statistical algorithms to understand soil nitrogen levels, and provide optimal nitrogen fertilisation instructions
  • Walk With Path Ltd (Essex) – Path Feel – an insole that acts in real time to its users’ needs by vibrating in response to pressure resulting in the user being able to feel the floor and achieving balance, as well as tracking walking to aid diagnosis
  • Alice SI Ltd (London) – bringing transparency to social funding – a decentralised social impact platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. It helps social organisations run projects transparently using smart contract-based incentives to ensure their impact is independently verified

Notes to Editors:

About Vodafone Techstarter

Vodafone Techstarter was launched in September 2018 and 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 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.

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.

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. Its purpose is to transform lives with tech; and it is dedicated to pursuing its 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.

[1] Company name in bold, project name in italics

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About Vodafone UK

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