The UK is a global centre for socially responsible technology innovation according to Tech Nation, the UK network for digital tech entrepreneurs.
‘Tech for social good’ companies were worth £2.3bn in 2018, with a turnover of £732m.
Nearly half of the 490 companies identified are at an early stage in their journey and have raised only seed funding. These young businesses are making contributions in areas including edtech, fintech and artificial intelligence.
Digital Secretary and MP for Kenilworth and Southam in Warwickshire, Jeremy Wright, said: “I’m pleased to see the UK’s ‘tech for social good’ sector is not only having a positive societal impact but is also making a significant contribution to the economy.
“’We are working hard to support those in the field by improving charities’ digital skills, boosting access to finance for social tech ventures and backing an awards scheme to celebrate up-and-coming entrepreneurs.”
Notable examples of UK businesses seeking to combine profit and social purpose include Oxfordshire-based TechPixies, which addresses the gender gap in entrepreneurship by providing women with online training in social media and digital marketing and FairforYou, a Coventry-based social enterprise which provides loans for customers to purchase essential items for their home. Set up to challenge high cost credit, it offers tailored finance to purchase from its online high street.
FairForYou was voted Consumer Champion at the Consumer Credit Awards in 2017 in only its second year. The company says it is currently the highest rated personal lender in the UK based on Trustpilot feedback.
Another successful social enterprise is Oxfordshire-based School Space which helps generate additional income for schools through letting out their facilities to local community groups in evenings and weekends.
Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech Nation said: “This study provides a fascinating analysis of a fast-emerging sector within ‘tech’. These purpose and profit startups range from platforms such as fashion recycling platform Depop to surplus food distribution platform, Olio. We are witnessing a new driver in tech startups. While the profit motive remains high, millennials are increasingly driven by the desire to make a meaningful impact on society. Harnessing the huge potential of tech allows us to really think big. We can have both economic growth as well as positively impacting society and the environment.”
The Tech for Social Good report is supported by Berenberg and BT who champion the sector. Through their support of the report, BT and Berenberg aim to bring heightened awareness to how businesses are using technology to make a positive impact, and to support disruptive technologies which are improving people’s everyday lives.
Richard Brass, Head of Wealth and Asset Management UK at Berenberg, said: “Tech Nation’s analysis is a useful step towards understanding the “tech for social good” landscape across the UK. Alongside BT, we are hopeful that it will bring greater visibility and awareness of how businesses are using technology to have positive social impact. Our wish for this report is that it may act as a catalyst for further engagement and ultimately investment. We look forward to continuing our support of this sector.”