Zinc, which is on a mission to help tech entrepreneurs tackle social problems across the globe, has secured £3m from a range of investors.
Zinc has raised more than £3m in seed investment from investors who want to help tech entrepreneurs tackle far-reaching social problems that affect hundreds of millions of people.
The company runs a nine month programme that takes 50 entrepreneurs and, with the support of experts in social science, technology, design and business, helps them to build entirely new companies focused on solving deep-seated social problems.
Each programme has a single mission, to solve a high-profile social problem which affects more than 100m people in the developed world.
Having successfully created 17 new businesses from its first mission, Zinc has now secured the backing of a groundbreaking mix of investors to roll out its innovative model.
Zinc’s investors include two of Europe’s top seed and early stage venture capital firms (Atomico and LocalGlobe), a world-leading university for social science (LSE), social impact investor and a range of expert angel investors (such as Martin Leuw and Michael Norton).
The funding comes just as its first mission, which began last October in central London, draws to a close. From inviting 55 prospective founders and entrepreneurs to participate in its first ever mission, Zinc has given birth to 17 companies committed to tackling the problem of women’s mental and emotional health.
More than 80% of the companies that have emerged from Zinc’s first six month mission have a Female Founder and more than three quarters of the companies’ founders were born outside the UK, illustrating the diversity and global outlook of the Zinc programme.
The new Zinc companies have been formed to tackle problems as diverse as perinatal mental health, loneliness amongst the elderly, young women discovering sexual pleasure, stress-related physical conditions like IBS, women walking safely in cities, new talking therapies and more.
Each brings solutions that can be implemented through technology and are capable of being used in communities across the globe, to solve problems that affect women around the world.
Welcoming the backing for Zinc and the launch of the new mission, Matt Hancock (secretary of state for digital) said: “I love Zinc’s vision of combining entrepreneurship, academic insight and digital technology to tackle big social issues, and create exciting new businesses.
“I am delighted to see that the missions are inspiring great talent to come together to build social businesses with global ambition. The second mission is close to my heart and I will do everything I can to help it succeed.”
Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Skype and founding partner and CEO of Atomico, one of Zinc’s investors, said: “We need more tech entrepreneurs to focus on the big social challenges that we face across the world. Zinc has the expertise and partnerships to lead the way, not only in Europe but across the developed world.
The £3m funding will enable Zinc can begin to plan future missions and replicate the success of its launch initiative. It will begin to recruit candidates for its second mission, which will start in October, immediately.
The second mission will focus on the 150 million people living in places which have been hit hard by automation and globalisation over the last 20 or 30 years, as their traditional industries (e.g. coal, manufacturing, textiles, shipbuilding, ports and tourism) declined.
Paul Kirby, chief executive and co-founder of Zinc, said: “There is an urgent need for more and better solutions to help people and places adapt to economic change. Solutions are needed to help those who are still suffering from the legacy of shifts that started in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as those affected by the coming waves of change that new technologies and global competition could bring.”
The impact of automation and globalisation on jobs and communities has dominated headlines across the developed world in recent years. From the American rust belt to the North of England, many cities and towns have been battling to adjust to the economic changes of the last few decades.
Now there are fears that the next wave of automation and globalisation, including the impact of Artificial Intelligence and the growing might of China, could leave behind a new generation of people and places.
While automation and globalisation will make many places richer and improve the overall quality of life, some people and places will continue to be caught up in the transition which, as we have seen over recent decades, can be painful and prolonged.
Zinc’s mission is to create new solutions to help people adapt to changes so that they can create and benefit from the new opportunities.
The programme in this new mission will start on 1 October and is open to 50 outstanding would-be entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world.
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