Vodafone UK today 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 dedicated supporter 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 category. 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.
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Notes to Editors
About Vodafone Techstarter
Vodafone Techstarter was 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. It aims to uncover and develop ideas that harness the power of technology, connectivity and innovation to improve health, education, environmental protection or social mobility.
The Vodafone Techstarter award fund of £300,000 is being distributed as follows:
- Not for profit Vodafone Techstarter awards – four winners receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by the Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1089625).
- For profit Vodafone Techstarter awards – four winners each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by Vodafone Business.
- Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s awards – two winners, voted by Vodafone employees, each receive £10,000
The Techstarter judging panel were: Amparo Moraleda, Non-Executive Director, Vodafone Group Plc; Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business UK; Bill Liao, SOSV, CoderDojo and Social Tech Trust Chair; Clare McDonald, Business Editor, Computer Weekly; James Heath, Director, Digital Infrastructure, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Jen Hyatt, Founder of Troo.ai, Eartime and Big White Wall; Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone UK; and Patrick Knight, Chief Information Officer, Travis Perkins.
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’s 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. As a leading charity, in the last decade, it has invested over £30 million and supported over 750 socially motivated tech ventures in the UK.