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Vodafone announces winners of Techstarter accelerator

Vodafone has announced the winners of its startup accelerator programme, aimed at helping young companies developing technology for social good

The winners of Vodafone’s Techstarter accelerator programme have been announced to showcase startups which are developing technology for social good.

The startups will share a fund of £300,000 to further develop their ideas, as well as gaining access to experts from Vodafone and the Social Tech Trust who will provide mentoring, coaching and commercial advice.

“The range and calibre of the Vodafone Techstarter winners show that the UK is home to a thriving social tech sector,” said Nick Jeffery, chief executive of Vodafone UK.

“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 startups developing and using technology as a force for good.”

Eight startups were selected for the programme, half of which were in the not-for-profit category, and half of which were for profit.

Winners of the not-for-profit category, which will be supported by the Vodafone Foundation, were:

  • Code 4000: A resource allowing vocational training in programming for prisoners around the world, aiming to give offenders new skills and the opportunity to turn their lives around upon release.
  • Full Fact: A fact-checking tool aimed at helping internet users tell the difference between real and fake news in real time.
  • The Children’s Society: A virtual reality (VR) programme, dubbed Reality Check, which helps children use immersive VR environments to deal with anxiety-inducing situations.
  • Wayfindr: A smartphone application which helps people who are visually impaired to navigate indoor environments.
“We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation”
Nick Jeffery, Vodafone UK

Winners of the for-profit category, which will be supported by Vodafone Business, were:

  • Alice SI: A funding platform for social and environmental projects which uses blockchain technology to allow donors to track exactly what their money was used for.
  • Blakbear: A sensor technology which combines algorithms and electrochemical technology to helps farmers increase the yield of their crops.
  • Lettus Grow: An aeroponic technology, combined with management software, for indoor vertical farms designed to increase yield and reduce environmental impact of farming.
  • Walk With Path: A shoe insole which responds to foot pressure in real time and releases vibrations to help people with certain medical conditions to walk independently and keep their balance.

Vodafone chose to focus on startups developing technology for social good as part of the Techstarter awards to help further develop technologies that will improve health, education, the environment and social mobility.

Each of the winners will receive £35,000 of the total funding, as well as a 12-month programme of support from Vodafone.

An additional £10,000 of funding each will be given to two winners of the Vodafone Techstarter Champions awards, this year won by The Children’s Society and LettUs Grow, as chosen by Vodafone employees.

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 startups grow and thrive with the resources and support provided.”

Though the UK is still a leader when it comes to investment in technology startups, the amount of capital funding for startups in the UK dropped by 28% in 2018, mainly due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

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