Tech start-ups tackle social issues in East London

Europe’s first accelerator programme for technology start-ups focussed on creating positive social and environmental change has showcased its early successes in East London.

Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) celebrated the early achievements of ten ‘Tech for Good’ start-ups, including Cove and Firesouls, at its 2015 Summer Demo Day. Over the summer the ten fledgling ventures spent 12 weeks on BGV’s accelerator programme, which provides £15,000 investment, mentoring and technical business support.

Paul Miller, founding partner at BGV said: “It’s never been easier to use technology to change the world – the ten startups we’re launching here have ambitions to do just that. We’re really excited by the growing movement behind using technology for social change.”

Cove is an app initially targeted at young people experiencing grief and loss. It acts as a musical journal that teenagers can use to create music that captures their mood and expresses their emotions. Firesouls produce digital products to get more resources into local communities. The company’s main product is the Social Value Exchange, an online platform that gets more resources into community projects by matching them with large government suppliers and making use of the Social Value Act in public sector procurement.

The remaining eight start-ups use technology to tackle a range of social challenges in the areas of health, education, sustainability and democracy. For example, eFridgeMagnet is a device that lets friends and family know about their older relatives by unobtrusively monitoring how they are using their fridge. By tracking the everyday behaviour of opening and closing the fridge, eFridgeMagnet provides an affordable and simple solution to help families keep an eye on their relative’s activity and health.

Since launching in late 2011 BGV has delivered seven cohorts of its accelerator programme, supporting 65 startups, of which 54 are still active. And since 2012 it has invested over £1m in those startups, 60% of which have gone on to raise over £12.5m between them. 

Miller concludes: “We predict we’re going to see more and more startups launching around particular social or environmental problems, creating sustainable high growth businesses that will impact the lives of millions of people.”

To find out more about BGV's Summer 2015 Tech For Good cohort, click here.


Photo credit: Bethnal Green Ventures