14 Feb 2013

We’re back!

By Lily

Last night in a packed out Nesta, Nick Hurd – the minister for Civil Society – announced that Bethnal Green Ventures is one of the winners of the Cabinet Office’s Social Incubator Fund. This means a lot more BGV over the next few years and we are very excited. Our next round will be this summer and applications open on the 6th March, so start collecting those ideas!

Here is our press release…


14th February 2013

Accelerator for tech-based social ventures receives Cabinet Office backing

  • Bethnal Green Ventures is one of the first recipients of Cabinet Office’s new Social Incubator Fund
  • Nominet Trust and Nesta to back Bethnal Green Ventures in a four year programme

Europe’s first accelerator for technology-based social ventures, Bethnal Green Ventures, in partnership with Nominet Trust and Nesta, is to receive support from the Cabinet Office’s Social Incubator Fund. The Cabinet Office announced the first successful applicants of the Social Incubator Fund today (14 February).

Bethnal Green Ventures will receive £1.8m investment – from Cabinet Office, Nominet Trust and Nesta – to back, over the next four years, up to 80 early stage technology start-ups tackling social and environmental problems.

Bethnal Green Ventures will offer £15,000 investment to 20 early stage social technology ventures per year, enabling successful applicants to concentrate full time on their start-up for twelve weeks. During the programme, the ventures will take part in workshops and receive mentoring, legal and administrative support. The ventures will be based in a newly refurbished start-up space at Nesta, Chancery Lane, and will also have use of Google Campus in Shoreditch.

Applications for the summer 2013 programme open on 6 March 2013 for early stage technology ventures seeking to tackle problems in health and ageing, education and employment, and sustainability. Workshops will be run throughout March and April for interested applicants. The programme particularly welcomes applications from women.

Bethnal Green Ventures has run two programmes since it launched in 2011 and has incubated twelve start-ups to date. Alumni of the programme include:

  • DrDoctor – a multi-platform application to improve patient bookings for hospitals.
  • Good Gym – get fit by doing good, online tools to help you exercise while volunteering in your community.
  • Fairphone – building the world’s first ethical mobile phone.
  • Mastodon C – big data specialists helping organisations use data better without using carbon intensive server farms.

The accelerator programme also boasts a network of high profile mentors including Gavin Starks, CEO of the Open Data Institute; Blaine Cook, former lead developer at Twitter; and Eze Vidra, head of Google Campus.


Paul Miller, Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures said:

“Our aim is to provide investment and support to people who really understand social challenges so that they can build social ventures to improve the lives of millions of people. With this backing from the Cabinet Office, Nesta, Nominet Trust and Google Campus we’ll be able to do that for twenty new ventures a year, giving more people the opportunity to turn their ideas into reality.”


Matt Mead, Chief Investment Officer at Nesta said:

“Nesta has been working with Bethnal Green Ventures for the last two years and we are delighted that we have this opportunity to scale-up the impact that the programme has on the impact investment market. In Autumn 2012, Nesta announced the launch of Nesta Impact Investments, a venture fund to help scale social impact innovations; we hope that together with Bethnal Green Ventures and the programme partners that we can help grow the impact that technology can have on social issues.”


Annika Small, CEO, Nominet Trust said:

“Technology has already transformed how we communicate, how we work, how we learn, how we shop. At Nominet Trust, we are passionate about the potential of technology to redesign big social challenges. This is why we are delighted to support the Bethnal Green Ventures accelerator programme for tech start-ups working on things that matter. As part of the Social Incubation Fund, Bethnal Green Ventures offers vital support for people making imaginative use of technology to develop sustainable and scalable social innovations.”


Notes for Editors

  • The Cabinet Office Social Incubation Fund has invested £900,000 in the Bethnal Green Ventures programme. This has been match funded by Nesta and Nominet Trust. In addition, Keystone Law is providing legal advice in kind to the ventures and Google Campus is supporting the programme by providing access to space and networks.
  • The investment is in return for a six per cent stake in the social ventures.
  • The deadline for the summer 2013 programme applications is 29 April 2013. Dates for applicant workshops will be announced in due course.
  • The team behind Bethnal Green Ventures is:
    • Paul Miller founder of School of Everything and author of Startup Factories, Nesta’s report on the rising trend of tech accelerators.
    • Glen Mehn, managing director of Social Innovation Camp, who has worked for 10 years in Silicon Valley and supported startups in Kenya and Uganda.
    • Lily Ash Sakula, who has worked supporting social businesses at the Hub and the Young Foundation.


About the partners

  • Bethnal Green Ventures is an accelerator programme for people who want to use technology to change stuff that really matters: from health care and education to employment and energy creation. We support great people with new ideas to help build solutions to social problems through an intensive three-month programme: taking an idea from back-of-the-envelope to social startup. www.bethnalgreenventures.com


  • Nesta is the UK’s innovation foundation. We are an independent charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. Our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery. All of The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts’ activities, contracts and staff were transferred to this new charity and a new charitable trust on 1 April 2012. www.nesta.org.uk.


  • Nominet Trust was established in 2008 by Nominet, one of the world’s largest Internet registries, which maintains the .uk register of domain names.  As part of Nominet’s public purpose, Nominet Trust was set up to bring together, invest in and support people making imaginative use of technology to address big social challenges. To date, Nominet Trust has invested more than £12 million in technology-enabled projects that improve lives and communities. www.nominettrust.org.uk