Ten UK charities took to the stage at Google UK’s HQ last week to pitch for the chance to win funding of £500,000. We were delighted to see four of the charities win the maximum funding to develop their innovative ideas to use technology to make a positive impact.
Nesta’s own Helen Goulden took part in the judging panel along with Jimmy Wales, Emma Freud, Matt Brittin, Jacqueline Fuller, and Peter Jones; to select three winners; and the public vote counted for the fourth ‘people’s choice’.
The chosen ventures were:
We Farm: Peer-to-peer communication service to help farmers improve their livelihoods
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: Crowdsourcing data to help prevent mosquito-borne diseases
Centrepoint: Data analytics to keep young people off the streets
And the Royal National Institute for the Blind won the public vote to create affordable Smart glasses to improve life for people with sight loss.
The remaining six finalists will each receive £200,000 and all ten groups will be supported by Google and Nesta to develop their ideas into reality over the coming months.
I’m really looking forward to working with the projects to help them develop them in a way that brings maximum impact for the communities they want to benefit. At Nesta, we support a wide range of organisations that test different ways to use digital tech for social benefit.
Very often, we find that the toughest challenge is in how the technology is implemented and embedded into the social context, and in the design of a longer term operating model for the platforms and services created. For all ten Google Impact finalists, it is just the beginning of an exciting development journey and we’re thrilled to be part of it.
We’re still in the relatively early days of realising the potential benefits of tech for social impact; I think the quality of the finalists is a testament to how much potential there is to be unlocked if the non-for-profit sector is given the right kind of support and finance.
Last week, as the ten teams got up to present their ideas, we were all shown just how passionate, inventive and ambitious charities can be when applying digital tech to solve social problems.
The Google Impact Challenge is now expanding internationally in its second year, and not only provides a brilliant showcase for this potential – it provides game-changing finance and support that is much needed to make the most of the sector’s potential for innovation.