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February 8, 2019

Vodafone Techstarter Awards rewards 8 startups for their ‘strong social purpose’

By Robert Scammell

UK telecommunications firm Vodafone has announced the winners of its inaugural Techstarter Awards, recognising eight startup organisations that are using technology for good.

The programme, created in partnership with the firm’s charitable arm, the Vodafone Foundation and the Social Tech Trust, whittled down over 270 organisations to 12.

The eight winners were announced in London last night and picked for their “strong social purpose”. They will share a prize pool of £300,000 and receive business guidance to help progress their organisations.

Technologies used by the winners include blockchain, automation and virtual reality.

Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive, Vodafone UK, commented:

“The range and calibre of the Vodafone Techstarter winners show that the UK is home to a thriving social tech sector. We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. These awards are just one way we can recognise, celebrate and support start-ups developing and using technology as a force for good.”

Here are the winners in full:

Not-for-profit category

Winners receive £35,000 each and a one-year support programme through Vodafone Business. They are:

  • Code4000 UK CIC, which is providing vocational training in computer programming to prisoners with the goal of improving employability after release and reduce reoffending.
  • Full Fact, which has developed automated fact-checking tools to verify claims in real-time as part of its fight against fake news.
  • The Children’s Society, which is using virtual reality to help children overcome their anxiety by simulating difficult situations in a safe environment.
  • Wayfindr, which provides audio directions to vision-impaired and autistic people, helping them navigate complex indoor areas independently via a smartphone app.

The additional Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s award went to The Children’s Society.

For-profit category

Winners receive £35,000 each and a one-year support programme from Vodafone Business. They are:

  • Alice SI Ltd, a blockchain funding platform for social and environmental projects that lets donors track the impact their money is making.
  • BlakBear Ltd, which is using sensors and software to increase farmers’ crop yields.
  • LettUs Grow, which is designing all-in-one aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for vertical farms to improve crop yields and reduce environmental impact.
  • Walk with Path Ltd, which has made an insole that vibrates in real-time to aid those with walking difficulties, such as those with peripheral neuropathy.

The additional Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s award went to Lettus Grow.

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust, said:

“Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely powerful platform that showcases the potential of partnership and demonstrates how cross-sector organisations can work together to create something truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing how these start-ups grow and thrive with the resources and support provided.”

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