Last week Vodafone UK announced the winners of the first Vodafone Techstarter awards, shining a light on the start-ups developing technology solutions with a social purpose. The Techstarter programme has been created in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicatedsupporter of socially motivated tech ventures.
The winners were revealed as Code 4000, Full Fact, The Children’s Society and Wayfindr in the not-for-profit category; and Alice SI, Blakbear, Lettus Grow and Walk With Path in the for-profit category1. The Techstarter Champion’s award – voted for by Vodafone employees – went to The Children’s Society and LettUs Grow. The ventures use a range of technologies, from mobile apps and the Internet of Things to artificial intelligence and blockchain.
In addition to sharing a prize fund of £300,000, winners will benefit from access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and Social Tech Trust, enabling them to take their innovations from prototype to market readiness. This will include coaching, mentoring and commercial advice.
The awards ceremony, hosted by television presenter and tech expert Jason Bradbury, included a compelling presentation from GiveVision, an organisation that created a wearable headset for people who are visually impaired. It has grown from start-up to a well-established organisation thanks in part to partner involvement and funding.
Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive, Vodafone UK, commented:
The range and calibre of the Vodafone Techstarter winners show that the UK is home to a thriving social tech sector. We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. These awards are just one way we can recognise, celebrate and support start-ups developing and using technology as a force for good.
Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust, said:
Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely powerful platform that showcases the potential of partnership and demonstrates how cross-sector organisations can work together to create something truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing how these start-ups grow and thrive with the resources and support provided.
Television presenter Jason Bradbury added:
I’m really optimistic about technology and the benefits it can bring to our society and economy. The Techstarter programme – and the support from Vodafone and Social Tech Trust – will make a real difference to social tech in the UK.
Vodafone Techstarter Not-for-Profit Award Winners (supported by the Vodafone Foundation)
- Code4000 UK CIC (Hampshire) – Code4000’s Global Prison Curriculum provides vocational training in computer programming, with a view to enhancing the employability of ex-offenders and helping to reduce reoffending.
- Full Fact (London) – Automated fact-checking tools enable Full Fact to help prevent the spread of fake news, and even identify and fact check some claims automatically in real time.
- The Children’s Society (London) – The Children’s Society Reality Check programme pioneers the use of immersive virtual reality environments to help children manage and overcome anxiety.
- Wayfindr (London) – Wayfindr uses smartphone technology to give vision-impaired people the power to navigate complex indoor environments independently.
Vodafone Techstarter For-Profit Award Winners (supported by Vodafone Business)
- Alice SI Ltd (London) – Alice is a funding platform for social and environmental projects that promotes data transparency using blockchain technology. Alice allows donors and investors to track exactly what impact their money makes, while reducing reporting costs for charities.
- 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.
- LettUs Grow (Bristol) – LettUs Grow designs aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for indoor and vertical farms to help deliver higher crop yields and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture
- Walk With Path Ltd (Essex) – Path Feel is an insole that acts in real time by vibrating in response to pressure. This results in the user being able to feel the floor and stay balanced. It also tracks walking to aid diagnosis.
For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk