20 Dec 2019

20 Tech for Good Themes for 2020

By Paul Miller

Applications are open for our Spring 2020 programme where we offer investment and support for amazing tech for good startups. It’s an important year to take stock because it marks ten years to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We hope the investments we make now will be large contributors to the success of the 17 goals which aim to put people and planet on a prosperous and sustainable course.

In every case, we’re looking for technology businesses that we believe could benefit the lives of millions of people and grow to have an enterprise value of over £100 million. The positive social or environmental impact of the startup must also be intentional and measurable.

So what are the most pressing problems we need to tackle over the next 10 years to achieve a sustainable planet, a better society and healthy lives? Here we outline 20 areas we think are important.

A sustainable planet

The climate emergency – We need to urgently face up to the climate crisis. Can you help reduce emissions to net-zero? Your solution could boost renewables, cut emissions, or set a pathway to smarter consumption.

Zero waste – startups that help industries or consumers radically reduce material waste production. Recycling levels are still pitifully low in most countries. How can we make them better?

Circular economy – it’s vital we break the straight line from factory to landfill. Can you help design a restorative and regenerative economy?

Food security – climate change means that the food we eat is under threat. Can you help develop sustainable technologies that will guarantee enough good food for a growing population?

Ocean rescue – the plastics emergency is just one of the threats faced by our oceans. What solutions are there to ensure marine biodiversity is protected and that our ocean resources are used responsibly?

Biodiversity – with 1 million species threatened by extinction, ecosystems are in dangerous decline. Do you have an idea that will reinvigorate and reinforce biodiversity?

A better society

WorkerTech – tech has changed the world of work and not in every case for the better. We’re looking for tools and services to improve the livelihoods and opportunities of low-income or insecure workers.

End discrimination – we still live in a society laced with bias and discrimination with huge disparities in income, opportunities and power. What are you building to emancipate, empower and overcome discrimination?

Inclusive finance – a lack of access to finance and affordable financial services can lead to significant social and economic exclusion. We need products that help give access to underserved communities.

Opportunities through education – we need to level the playing field for access and outcomes in education. Can you promote quality education and inclusive lifelong learning for all?

A good death – our final days shouldn’t be filled with anguish. How can we support our legal, medical, social and psychological transition from this life?

New forms of collective action – demagoguery and bad governance thrives where trust has failed. Can you help build new forms of collective action that help everyone have a voice and influence? Do you have a tech solution to boost transparency, democracy and citizen power?

Healthy lives

Assistive tech – disabled people deserve better. Technology (both software and hardware) that is assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative by design has the potential to provide equal opportunities for all.

A rapidly ageing population – increasing years needn’t spell decreasing capabilities. We are looking for tech-enabled solutions to let people live limitless lives well into their later years.

Air pollution – the poor quality of the air we breathe kills millions of people around the world. Do you have ways we can reduce the adverse health effects of air pollution both indoors and outdoors?

Preventative health care – we believe that stopping people falling into ill health through improving diet, exercise and sleep is the most effective way to help people live healthier, happier and longer lives.

Reducing addiction – whether it’s the opioids crisis, alcohol or drugs, we’re keen to back businesses that help reduce addictions that are damaging people’s  health.

Better mental health – awareness of the problems associated with mental health has grown over the last decade, but the crisis continues to deepen. Do you have a solution to tackle this growing issue?

Anti-loneliness – loneliness has harmful health effects on a level with those caused by smoking and obesity. A recent study revealed that a third of people often or very often feel lonely. What can you build to meaningfully tackle this epidemic?

Make health or care cheaper – health inequality is on the rise. We’re interested in tech that can help reduce the costs and widen access to health and care.

Apply for our Spring 2020 programme.