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London Tech Week

Bethnal Green Ventures launches £33M to boost 100 UK ‘Tech for Good’ startups, prioritising gender equality

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Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV), the London-based venture capital (VC) firm focused on ‘tech for good’ and a participant in TechTalks with TFN’s recent panel discussion on the Future of AI for Good, has announced the initial closing of its largest fund to date at £33 million. The fund’s LPs include the British Business Bank, M&G Capital, Big Society Capital, Peter Bristot, the Managing Director of 22 Ventures and more.

As per Paul Miller OBE, Founder, CEO and Managing Partner, BGV, this fund will support up to 100 startups over the next four years through its flagship Tech For Good Programme where each venture selected will receive a £60,000 investment for 7% equity and BGV will then make follow-on investments of up to £1m at pre-seed into the most promising ventures that complete the programme. He points out, “The fund target is £50m and we’re hoping to do a final close by May 2024.”

Over the last four years, BGV has secured several smaller funds, primarily SEIS and EIS funds, amounting to a total of £6 million.

Founded in 2015, led by Managing Partners Melanie Hayes and Paul Miller, BGV has backed 177 ventures including Fairphone, LettUs Grow, Piclo and more through its Tech for Good Programme and helped create the tech for good movement in the UK through a series of ‘firsts’ including becoming the first UK VC firm to certify as a B Corp in 2015

Invest in female-founded startups

This fund aims to make at least half the investments into ventures founded by women. Bethnal Green Ventures is now inviting founders to apply for funding. The deadline for applications for their Spring 2024 Programme is 7th January 2024. Commenting on the selection criteria Miller says, “We’ll be selecting the most promising startups that apply based on their potential to become commercial and impact successes. For us that means the potential to become companies worth more than £100m and to have a positive benefit for millions of people.” 

Managing Partner of Bethnal Green Ventures, Melanie Hayes said: “We firmly believe the companies at the top of the FTSE and the Nasdaq in 10 to 20 years time will be those that can demonstrate their positive social and environmental impact as well as their financial success. It’s our job to find and support those companies when they’re just starting out.” 

Ken Cooper, Managing Director, Venture Solutions, British Business Bank said: “The British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme is key in helping to develop and maintain effective venture capital provision in the UK, lowering the barriers to entry for emerging fund managers. The programme has backed 44 funds, representing more than £2 billion of finance. Our commitment to Bethnal Green Ventures builds on that success and introduces a new funding option for pre-seed and seed stage technology businesses across the UK that use technology to solve pressing social and environmental issues.”

Rana Modarres, Impact Director, M&G Catalyst said: “The UK is a rich source of technologies and talent that can meet the demands of emerging and underserved markets, by using tech for good to accelerate solutions for complex social and environmental challenges. Our investment will help to finance at least 50 female entrepreneurs in the UK – we are excited to support BGV in their second fund as they continue to invest in diverse founders using technology to create positive impact at scale.” 

Josh Smith, Venture Investment Manager, Big Society Capital said: “We’re excited to see the continued growth of Bethnal Green Ventures who have been industry leaders in supporting tech startups that are tackling the biggest issues we face in society today including health, education and financial inclusion. 

Tech for good startups can be transformative in the right context, with the right intent, and with a business model aligned to impact. BGV are a trailblazer in developing and applying impact practice, and they’ve continued to push the boundaries with their work to measure and then take action to improve the diversity and equity of their investment portfolio. We look forward to continuing our partnership, building best practice in impact ventures and supporting impact startups to scale and improve lives.”

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