‘The UK technology sector grew 2.6 times faster than the UK economy as a whole last year, new figures show. One of the biggest growth areas was in tech for good, with new apps and online services helping society’s most vulnerable.’
How can technology be used to benefit humankind and put social good at the heart of the agenda?
There has never been a more important time to consider how we live, connect and build sustainable communities that are not detrimental to the world we live in. Technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and tackling issues such as plastic pollution, food wastage and climate change requires investment and research.
NorthInvest and the Social Tech Trust (formally Nominet Trust) joined forces to promote, engage and create conversation around tech with a social agenda. Humankind is at the heart of what matters and connecting minds within a diverse range of sectors with a desire to bring out the human side in tech and to encourage debate within this thriving niche of good is changing the way we live our lives.
On June 25th we launched our first ever ‘Tech for Good’ event here in Yorkshire. We cast a spotlight on individuals and tech businesses that are doing a world of good in our region.
At the event attendees were inspired by how tech is changing lives for the better and how important it is to build a significant community around tech sustainability.
Technology can play a transformative role in improving our lives for the better, whether it be an autonomous car that improves a disabled person’s independence, a digital platform that makes raising money for exceptional community projects easier, an online teaching academy that inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs, or a health app that helps you make lifestyle changes that prevent serious health problems. Tech that transforms lives needs greater prominence and support if it is to fulfil its potential. According to the Global Impact Investment forum, investment in social enterprise is on the increase as it embraces highly diversified sectors with long term benefits socially and financially. The perfect time to be involved is now.
The evening consisted of a workshop from the Social Tech Trust, who aim to powerfully leverage tech with purpose and aim to award grants with their new sheme ‘Tech to Unite us’ focused on tackling the problem of inequality. Applications open on the 2nd July.
Sue Osbourne from the School of Social Entrepreneurs outlined the amazing work they are doing helping more than 1,000 people learn how to transform their communities and help people in need.
Some questions from the audience on the day included, how do we meet the needs of people who are socially excluded, be it with literacy, or confidence in using tech?
Dom Raban from Xploro, commented how: ‘There are issues around access to tech devices, but diversifying content and being pragmatic, including multi lingual and voice versions of your tech, setting up an inclusion roadmap and even making sure an app works offline.’ Would solve some of these problems and ensure that those who really need to use the tech are not excluded from using it. He has designed a mobile app that provides children patients with information prior to procedures, at the event he demonstrated how the app reduced the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalisation and improved the health literacy of children.
Erik Cox from Graphene Cooling system DeHeats cited if,’ anyone is interested in working within the Tech for Good space, it is important that their tech helps the many and not just the few, responsibly designed products is crucially important, whilst reaching the widest audience and committing to corporate social responsibility.’
Stevie Ward, Captain of Leeds City Rhinos and CEO of MANTALITY- an online hub showcasing podcasts and articles with a physical delivery aspect of workshops to universities and men, commented on how he uses tech as an enabler for reducing mental health problems amongst young men. ‘Getting together and communicating properly, inspiring your peers and taking control of your life and making a difference is what is important.’ Stevie experienced a series of devastating lows and ultimate highs in sport and wants to open minds and encourage progression in mental and emotional health amongst young men in today’s era.
This event certainly empowered and challenged our minds on what kickstarts an amazing idea that transforms the way society works and improves on existing models. The inspiring social visions of this diverse group of entrepreneurs was received by a highly engaged and perceptive audience. Leaving us with the conclusion that the North is filled to the brim with potential to drive change within society. We were extremely proud to play host to this conversation, watch this space!
Speakers on the day included:
Stevie Ward– Captain of the Leeds City Rhinos and CEO of MANTALITY, an online platform/ retreat programme for men to come together and share their mental health problems.
Dom Raban– MD of Corporation Pop a digital innovation agency that develops mobile applications that use augmented reality, gamification and artificial intelligence to deliver health information directly to children. He believes his new app XPLORO will reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalisation and improve the health literacy of children.
Chloe Barrett- Founder of DigiDentistry Educational Resources an innovative and unique dental 3D system designed to stimulate and improve learning, application driven, easy to use and even easier to learn! It aims to capture the imagination, improving engagement and academic grades. Establishing a new way of learning for dental students.
Philip Webb– COO of Investors in community, an online platform making it easier for everyone in society to find and help good causes that matter to them – either by volunteering, donating, fundraising or giving gifts in kind. Think ‘the eBay or Facebook for doing good’.
Eric Cox– CEO of Deheat, an early-stage company innovating novel solid-state cooling materials. The company is developing graphene-doped metamaterials with applications in CPU/GPU cooling, electric vehicle battery cooling, LEDs, photovoltaics and cooling methodologies for hardware associated with blockchain technologies.
Kate Hainsworth– CEO of Leeds Community Foundation, joined in 2015 and has been instrumental in making the Foundation what it is today – the largest independent grant-maker in Leeds which has, to date, distributed over £33 million in grants to a range of community projects, primarily in Leeds.
Jonathan Straight – An entrepreneur with an impressive track record, pioneering recycling in the UK, working from start up to public company to exit. Jonathan’s range of experience is broad covering charities, social enterprises and businesses great as well as small. But he is also a creative force, a photographer and a writer and presenter for television. He wants to change the world for the better through the plural work he does, and through his creativity and philanthropy.
Helen Oldham– Founding Director of Northinvest, a Yorkshire based not for profit investor platform which is set to accelerate the growth of tech businesses in the Fintech, Health Tech, Cyber, Media and Tech for Good sectors with the support of the Northern Powerhouse.
Prior to this she was the Chief Publishing Director for Johnston Press where she was responsible for the strategy and operations of the i Newspaper, The Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman newsbrands. During this time Helen set up a tech business accelerator at the The Yorkshire Post offices in Leeds.
Helen is also an executive coach and Board Member of Maggies Yorkshire.