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London Tech Week

London VC Nesta closes £50M fund for startups focusing on environmental and social impact

Nesta Impact Investments
Nesta Impact Investments

One of the UK’s most active impact fund over the last decade, Nesta Impact Investments has now announced a new £50m strategy to support early-stage tech businesses. 

With this new strategy, Nesta Impact Investment will back a new generation of Seed-Series A startups working on social impact and environmental solutions. And will be writing cheques between £500k-£1 million in Seed-Series A stage startups, with the ability to invest up to £4m over multiple rounds.

Invested in three female-led startups

The London-based VC intends to make between five to ten investments annually. However, they have already invested in three startups, all of which have female founders. They are: 

  • Koru Kids: tech-enabled childcare platform 
  • Habitual Health: Type 2 diabetes reversal programme 
  • Oxford Medical Products: A ‘gastric balloon in a pill.’ 

Rachel Carrell, CEO & Founder of Koru Kids, says, “The childcare sector is in a complete mess. So we’re creating a better system for parents, childcarers, and children. And we are excited to partner with Nesta to make this vision a reality and offer more children a fairer start. 

She adds, “Nesta quickly proved that it’s much more than just a name on our cap table – the team has added so much value already, from informal advice whenever we need it, through to securing us speaking slots at key events. We’re excited to have Lisa and the team on board as we embark on our next growth phase.”

Commits to back minority groups

Further, the fund has committed that, by 2025, 25% of its portfolio will be led by people from minoritised or disadvantaged groups.

The remaining capital will help support the continued growth of Mission Studio, a joint venture between Nesta and Founders Factory. It focuses on launching new mission-led startups, providing them with the initial investment, and enabling a range of grant-making initiatives.

Invested in 30 companies

To date, Nesta’s investment arm has invested directly in over 30 early-stage companies from two previous funds. Their current portfolio includes Bibliu, Skin Analytics, and Arbor. The VC also saw various notable exits, such as FutureGov and BeApplied. 

“Going forward, the refined investment strategy will mirror Nesta’s new, organisation-wide push to make the world healthier, fairer, and more sustainable by 2030,” says the company in the press release. 

In line with their 2030 goals, Nesta Impact Investments will back startups building high-impact solutions in one of three key areas: 

  • those giving every child a fair start 
  • those that help people live healthy lives
  • Solutions that create a sustainable future where the economy works for both people and the planet. 

Lisa Barclay, Executive Director of Nesta Impact Investments (who prior to joining Nesta spent 8 years at Social Finance), comments, “Nesta Impact Investments has spent over a decade backing brilliant ventures and helping them scale. Through this, we’ve showcased the powerful impact investing can have. With this new strategy, we’re looking forward to helping another generation of mission-led businesses thrive.” 

“We believe that being purpose-led and creating a scalable tech company can go hand-in-hand as long as the right support is in place. That’s why, as investors, we bring so much more to the table than just capital. Whether it’s tapping into the research expertise of our Nesta colleagues, leveraging our understanding of the policy landscape, or ensuring founders can build the right networks, our team and the wider Nesta organisation do everything we can to help founders thrive while staying true to their social or environmental goals,” she adds. 

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