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Nesta Impact Investments leads £330k investment into fairer recruitment platform Applied

A web platform using behavioural science to remove bias from the recruitment process has received £330,000 in its first equity funding round from a global group of funders, led by social impact investor Nesta Impact Investments.

Nesta’s £150,000 investment is the latest addition to its sustainable communities portfolio and forms part of its strategy to invest in products and services that help improve access to employment, especially for disadvantaged groups. The online recruitment tool was spun out from Behavioural Insights Ventures Limited in December 2016 and has been developed in partnership with Harvard Professor and behavioural expert, Iris Bohnet. Nesta will hold a position on the board.

The funding will be used to rollout the product within Applied's existing blue-chip client base and extend it to new clients across five continents, enabling them to strip out bias in their recruitment, improve hiring speed and quality, and provide the best candidate experience possible.

The web platform helps organisations write inclusive job descriptions and monitors the drop off rate of applicants by age, ethnicity and gender among others, in order to encourage applications from a broader range of candidates. A work-based assessment is completed online, instead of submitting a CV, so candidates are judged on skills rather than background. Each application is then reviewed by multiple people and personalised, automated feedback is provided to unsuccessful candidates along with information about other suitable roles.

Over the past year, over 1,000 hiring managers have used the platform to process more than 19,000 applications for over 700 jobs. Customers range from small charities to governments and global corporates, including Hilton, Penguin Random House, the UK Civil Service, BCG’s Centre for Public Impact, Berwin Leighton Paisner and LEK Consulting.

Helen Gironi, Investment Director at Nesta Impact Investments said, “Applied has the potential to transform the recruitment process, making hiring better and more efficient, and greatly enhancing equality of opportunity. The organisation is working with a number of large employers, with impressive results. There is a tendency for individuals without traditional qualifications, peer group support or industry experience to be filtered out of the candidate pool early on. With this investment, Applied will enable more people to be fairly considered for roles and increase diversity of the workforce.

This investment in Applied aligns with Nesta Impact Investments strategy to invest in organisations that are using technology to tackle the big social issues of our time.”

Other investors include the Trawalla Foundation, Public and six angel investors, including Adam Grant, Wharton School professor and bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, Option B, and James Callander and Adam Clements of Freshminds recruitment consultancy.


For more information contact Juliet Grant in Nesta’s press office on 020 7438 2668 or 07866 949047, [email protected]

About Nesta Impact Investments
Nesta Impact Investments is a £17.6 million impact investment fund supported by Big Society Capital, Omidyar Network and Nesta. Launched in October 2012, NII helps tackle the major challenges faced by older people, children and communities in the UK by investing in life-changing innovations. The fund is run by Nesta Investment Management, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. It is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to manage and invest funds on behalf of Nesta and external investors. More information is available at

About Applied
Applied is a recruitment platform that gives you world leading behavioural science to remove bias and improve predictive validity in hiring. It’s the first tech spin out of the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team and was developed in partnership with Harvard Professor Iris Bohnet. We're working with companies around the world, from startups to governments to corporates.

The platform makes hiring smart, fair, and easy, using research and analytics to ensure you hire the best person for the job, irrespective of their background.

Applied is partly owned by the Behavioural Insights Team, its investors, and the Applied team.


Kate Glazebrook, Chief Executive, Applied said, “We know organisations see the value in building diverse, high-performing teams. But until now, most of the tools we use to hire, work against those objectives: they serve to reinforce the social and cognitive biases that stand in the way of identifying true talent rather than title or pedigree. We also know that most training programmes fail to bring about lasting change.”

“What we need are practical tools we use in our everyday lives that do the heavy lifting of removing these biases for us. By bringing the best research to life through product design, we’ve shown that it doesn’t have to be hard, and the impacts can be significant. We’re very excited to embark on this next phase of our growth.”

Adam Grant, Author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B; Wharton professor; NYT writer said, “If more companies used behavioral science, it would be much easier to identify and attract a diverse pool of talented people. Kate and her team at Applied have done brilliant work on how employers can pique the interest of applicants and neutralize the biases of recruiters, and I think they’re poised to have a big impact.”

James Callander, Managing Director, FreshMinds said, “It is rather rare in the recruitment world that you find such a healthy combination of a worthy social mission, great technology, and a stand out leadership team as the Behavioural Insights Team’s new spin-out Applied.

“Using cutting edge behavioural science, savvy design and a genuine desire to change outmoded recruiting methods, not only will it reduce unconscious bias from recruitment processes but bring a much needed enhanced user experience to corporate recruiting applicant tracking systems.

“I am very excited to be supporting them as they grow to the next stage of their development.”

David Halpern, Chief Executive, Behavioural Insight Team said, “The solution to a policy problem isn't always a new policy. Sometimes it's a tool that organisations can use that enables them to make better, more efficient decisions. We are incredibly excited about the potential for Applied to do just that - by helping organisations to remove implicit bias from their hiring decisions.”

Carol Schwartz, Businesswoman, Philanthropist, Member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and Chair of the Trawalla Foundation said, "We are all unfortunately subject to the influence of unconscious bias. Applied enables organisations to undertake the recruitment and assessment of employees largely bias free. It's very exciting software which takes advantage of the latest innovative technology, and most importantly, allows us to recruit from 100% of the talent pool."