The Social Tech Trust plans to launch a new £30m fund to address challenges around the sector's access to technology, which were outlined in the Civil Society Strategy last year.
It has the backing of the secretary of state of digital, culture, media and sport, Jeremy Wright, who announced the plans for a fund as part of a range of measures at the Responsible Tech 2019 event held by think tank Doteveryone last month.
The Social Tech Venture Fund will be administered by the Social Tech Trust. In the announcement, the funder said: “It will address many of the challenges outlined in the Civil Society Strategy, with a focus on social transformation in three key areas; communities, health and financial inclusion.”
The Trust aims to raise £30m of equity investment. A spokesperson said that they are “having a number of conversations with potential investors” to source the investment.
DCMS said that it would be supporting the fund by giving successful applicants access to “technical skills workshops” to develop. It will also help the trust source investors.
Ed Evans, chief executive of Social Tech Trust said, “We’re delighted that DCMS are demonstrating their support of this pioneering fund that will address the gap in the availability of equity investment, required to scale transformative purpose-driven tech ventures. This presents a fantastic opportunity for us to challenge tech to work harder for the good of society.”
A spokesperson told Civil Society News that organisations will only be eligible to apply for the funding if they can take on equity or equity-like investment.
They said: “We’re interested in companies with a social mission who want to scale their social impact with tech by raising investment. This will include, but is not limited to, our portfolio of grant funded ventures. Successful applicants will be working to address social challenges in one of three key areas – communities, health and wealth.”
Most charities are either set up as charitable trusts or as companies limited by guarantee, meaning they are not able to take on equity investment. Community interest companies and charity trading subsidiaries are able to take on equity investment.
The Social Tech Trust supports organisations that use technology to drive social change. It was previously called The Nominet Trust. It changed its name in May 2018, after becoming independent from Nominet, the UK’s official registry for domain names, in January. Since then, it has partnered with Social Investment Business.
It has invested in initiatives such as Feebris, a mobile health platform that uses artificial intelligence to enable users to diagnose health conditions.
The Social Tech Trust hopes to launch the fund by the end of 2019.