Brent Hoberman and Tim Smit among names pledging to mentor social tech projects as part of Social Tech, Social Change challenge
Getting social on the internet no longer merely refers to the latest celebrity contretemps on Twitter, posting ostentatious Instagram selfies or pinning your love of pugs into the cyberverse. More and more innovators are stripping back the layers of associations we have attached to the word 'social' and are taking it to a more charitable and positive avenue where social media tech will be just that: technology that is social, communal, shared and integrative.
One institution with a mission to aid this movement is social tech funder Nominet Trust. With an objective to invest in people committed to using the internet to make society better, they launched the Social Tech, Social Change (STSC) challenge in June 2013. The programme offers funding and support to entrepreneurs developing exciting new tech ventures that address major social issues affecting Britain such as unemployment, social isolation, access to education and healthcare.
In the spirit of altruism, the social tech sponsors are being backed by a gallant effort from the Founders Forum For Good (FFFG), a community of savvy and seasoned global entrepreneurs, who will act as mentors to the winners of the STSC challenge. In addition to a £50,000 grant from the £1m ‘Tech for Good’ fund, the chosen few will receive mentorship and hands-on support from a whole host of leading entrepreneurs throughout the duration of the year-long programme. As has now been revealed, these include such illustrious names as Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com and Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project; Gi Fernando, co-founder of Techlightenment; Barry Smith, co-founder of Skyscanner and visionary mobile guru, Ralph Simon (known as 'the father of the ringtone'),
Each tech guru will be suitably matched to a project relevant to their experience. Their role will be to help the projects effectively grow in scale and influence from the early-stage ideas and, have a real opportunity to impact social change for the better. Winners from the latest round who will receive funding and mentorship include, Equal Eyes: a suite of accessible mobile applications to support the elderly; Justinteractive New Media Ltd.: a community driven social gifting platform to encourage re-use of items otherwise destined for landfill; and The Crowd Works: a peer-based recruitment platform matching your LinkedIn contacts’ skills with open job.
CEO of FFFG, Dafna Ciechanover Bonas, is optimistic about the community’s involvement. “For an ambitious young entrepreneur taking on today’s big social challenges, the right mentor can make all the difference," she said.
"We know that actual mentorship and support from those with experience and the relevant contacts is vital to the success of social tech start-ups. Founders Forum for Good was created by founders, for founders, and we are confident that our pool of world-class digital entrepreneurs will make exceptional mentors.”
For a complete list of the ventures that have made the cut thus far, we'd recommend a visit to the Nominet Trust website.