Innovate Social Tech

Status: Open to applications
Deadline: 25 July 2018


Grants are available for entrepreneurial organisations to support innovative ventures harnessing the power of the internet and digital technologies to deliver significant social change.


Fund Value: £ 500,000
Maximum Value: £ 45,000

Value Notes 

Grants of up to £45,000 are available for a period of 9-12 months.

Successful applicants will also be offered the following additional support:

  • Technical assistance to support their growth, sustainability and capacity for transformative innovation, eg legal and business support, social impact measurement and reporting, marketing and communications.
  • Access to the Trust's extensive support networks, including mentors and investors.
  • A personal approach from the Social Tech Trust team – one that recognises the importance of flexibility for early-stage innovation.
  • Support to build their case for further investment.

Extended Description

Innovate Social Tech is a new grant funding programme from the Social Tech Trust (formerly the Nominet Trust) that supports entrepreneurial organisations with innovative ventures to transform lives with technology. The Trust provides grant funding and bespoke technical assistance to aid early-stage innovations, enabling ventures to grow, attract further investment and scale their social impact.

Focused on the theme of ‘Tech to Unite Us’, the programme’s first round has a total fund of £500,000 and will offer support for up to ten UK based teams developing innovative projects that aim to address inequality by using technology to unite people in inspirational and transformational ways. Projects must be at the demonstration stage of development.

Latest Information

There is a two-stage application process for the Innovate Social Tech programme 'Tech to Unite Us'. The deadline for Stage 1 applications is 25 July 2018 (midday).

Key Criteria

Eligible applicants should have:

  • Registration as a UK-based organisation (including registered companies, social enterprises, charities, local authorities, or cooperatives) and the potential for social impact in the UK.
  • A social mission embedded in their organisation's governance.
  • Potential to deliver transformative social impact at scale through a deep understanding of the critical social challenge that drives their innovation and an ambition to make a difference through growth.
  • An innovative approach to tackling a social challenge; this could be through a creative business model, by harnessing emerging tech, or using existing tech in a new and transformative way.
  • A working product or service that they will continue to test and iterate and be working on a venture that is at the 'demonstration stage'.
  • Evidence of their potential to create user, social and financial value; for example, a theory of change, user co-design and testing, identified social KPIs, or prospective partnerships or routes to market.
  • The right team with the critical experience and expertise for success – in-house tech capabilities being an essential.

Applications from UK-registered entities that have social impact beyond the UK, for example, ventures operating in multiple regions will also be considered.

Eligability Expendeture

Grants are available to fund up to 10 ambitious, early stage ventures using 'tech to unite us'. Preference will be given to ventures with a social mission and an innovative approach that is potentially transformative – that is, it reimagines how the social challenge can be addressed.

Projects should be at the 'demonstration stage' and meet the scheme's eligibility criteria, including:

  • Addressing a social challenge that is recognised as critical (for example, through the Global Goals or UK government and civil society priorities).
  • Addressing the root causes of the challenge or transforming the current approach to it.
  • Aiming to reach as many people as possible, maximising the project's social impact.
  • Employing an approach that is different from (or builds upon) existing work in this area – this could be through a creative business model, by harnessing emerging tech, or using existing tech in a new and transformative way.
  • Having a working product or service that still requires testing and improving through continued user testing and increasingly rigorous social impact evaluation.
  • Demonstrating a valid demand – have evidence that people want the product and are able to use it.
  • Be improving the product with input from selected users gathered through observation, analytics, baseline survey, feedback, etc.
  • Be able to show a clear and testable Business Model hypothesis - including a clear value proposition.
  • Be able to demonstrate prospective partnerships or routes to market.

Grants can be used towards the costs of staff directly involved in delivering the venture eg project managers, designers, developers or marketeers.

Consideration will be given to funding requests to cover hardware, software or connectivity costs – but only if they are fundamental to successful project delivery and form only a small percentage of the overall investment.

Match Funding Restrictions

Match funding is not a pre-requisite of this scheme but any additional funding support will be taken into account when considering applications. The Trust might suggest that applicants seek match-funding for some of the costs.


Funding is not available for the following:

  • Hardware or software procurement projects.
  • Core organisational running costs.
  • Adding tech to existing services to make them more efficient or cost-effective.

Application Procedure

A Stage 1 application form can be accessed by creating an account on the Trust’s website.
Stage 1 applications should give an explanation of the issue, innovation, tech, users and project team. Applicants are also required to create a 90 second video pitch via a YouTube or Vimeo link (applicants should ensure that is not private, or if it is that the password is included).
Successful Stage 1 applicants will then be invited to submit a Stage 2 application and final investment decisions will be announced in October 2018.


Contact the Social Tech Trust for further information.

Addresses and contacts 

Application forms may be available on their website.

Contact details:
Social Tech Trust 
Minerva House 
Edmund Halley Road 
Oxford Science Park 
01865 334 000