Vodafone is inviting innovative West Midlands businesses to apply for its new UK social innovation fund

Vodafone Techstarter supports start-ups and early-stage ventures developing innovative technology solutions with social purpose. It aims to uncover and develop ideas that can harness the power of technology, connectivity and innovation to improve health, education, environmental protection or social mobility.

Vodafone Techstarter has been 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.

In addition to financial awards, winners will benefit from access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and the Social Tech Trust, enabling them to take their innovations from prototype to market readiness. This will include coaching, commercial development support, mentorship, investment and partnership advice, with additional bespoke elements depending on their requirements.

The Vodafone Techstarter social innovation award fund for 2018 is £300,000 to be distributed as follows:

• For profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by Vodafone UK.
• Not for profit Vodafone Techstarter Award – four winners will each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by the Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1089625).
• Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s Award – two winners, voted by Vodafone employees, will each receive £10,000

Vodafone Techstarter is open to UK-based inventors, innovators, charities, social enterprises, businesses and entrepreneurs, with prototype ideas. All applications must have a clearly defined social purpose.

Applications can be submitted here. Entries need to be in by 23 October 2018.

Michele Metcalfe, Vodafone UK’s Head of West Midlands Region, said: "We know there are many organisations and individuals across the West Midlands who are developing innovative technology solutions with a social purpose. Vodafone Techstarter is an exciting opportunity that could help them to take their idea to the next level."

The judging panel brings together industry, investment, technology and social purpose expertise and includes:

Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone UK; Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK; Amparo Moraleda, Non-Executive Director, Vodafone Group Plc; Matthew Gould, Director General for Digital and Media Policy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Jen Hyatt, Founder of Troo.ai, eartimeand Big White Wall; Bill Liao, SOSV, CoderDojo and Social Tech Trust Chair; Warrick Cramer, CEO Tomorrow Street and Patrick Knight, Chief Information Officer, Travis Perkins.

Judging will take place in December with finalists revealed in January 2019. Winners will be announced at an awards event in London in February 2019.
Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK’s General Counsel & External Affairs Director and Vodafone Foundation Trustee, commented: “Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely exciting opportunity for industry to contribute vital support, expertise and funding to help take early stage ventures driven by social purpose from start-up to scale-up. We believe that some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. The UK has a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in providing solutions to some of society’s most pressing challenges.”

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK added: “We are committed to supporting start-ups across the UK. I’m particularly excited to be encouraging new innovations that will contribute positively to the world we live in. The scaling of technology solutions can be a challenge for any start-up, and particularly for socially-motivated tech ventures. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the entries and helping to bring the ideas of our Vodafone Techstarters to market.”

Bill Liao, Social Tech Trust commented, “We’re delighted to partner with Vodafone and the Vodafone Foundation, bringing our unique experience of growing social tech ventures to Vodafone Techstarter. We believe that valuing the social purpose of tech from the outset, combined with cross sector collaboration, is vital in achieving transformational social change at scale. We’re really excited to see the ventures that come forward.”

For more information, please visit www.vodafone.co.uk/techstarter.
Applications can be submitted between 20th September and 23rd October 2018.

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