Over the last year Tech For Good Global has been working with Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation as a learning partner on the Tech For Good programme. Part of this work was to understand how to create a stronger ecosystem surrounding “tech for good” projects and indeed to continue building this field. Cassie Robinson explains [Read more…] about Get involved with the Tech for Good Community
Tech for Good video playlist
The below videos show how some existing problems can be solved using innovative tech solutions. In the 2017 programme, Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation co-funded 10 digital transformation projects, covering a range of issues including homelessness, addiction, disability, and domestic violence. We’re excited to show you what our projects were working on from April – July this year.
To learn more about the individual projects – see our Current Projects page.
We are hoping to run another Tech for Good programme later this year. Please keep an eye on Comic Relief’s Open Initiatives page for updates.
Tech for Good Programme Wrap-Up Event
On the 24th July, we marked the end of the second Tech for Good programme with a public wrap-up event at the Impact Hub Westminster near Trafalgar Square. Making the most of the opportunity to have all of the support team, the funders, and the 10 projects in the same room, we split the day into three parts. Firstly, a morning session for the support team, followed by an afternoon workshop with all of the projects, and finally a public showcase in the evening.
The support team along with staff from Comic Relief and Paul Hamlyn Foundation met first to share learning and reflections. We also discussed possible tweaks and improvements if the programme were to run again (we very much hope it will!).
In the afternoon, we held a workshop with all of the Tech for Good projects. This was a chance for everyone to reflect on how they found the programme, what did and didn’t worked for them, and what could have been done differently. Finally, we also discussed what support projects needed in moving on beyond this funding period.
The evening was a reception with an audience of around 100 people, who came to hear the 10 teams talk about their projects, what they’d learnt over the four months (lots!), and what their next steps might be. The teams had 10 minutes each in which to give a short presentation, and take a couple of questions about their work. Audience members were able to submit questions via Twitter – using Slido these were collated (using their hashtag) and displayed as they appeared. Teams then had a couple of minutes to run through some of the questions at the end of their slot.
The presentations were great! Most teams went for PowerPoint slideshows, though Ed from Bristol Braille didn’t use slides at all, instead showing the audience the latest prototype of the Braille e-reader. Harry Harrold from Neon Tribe (working with Alexandra Rose) braved a live demo, which worked seamlessly.
David Kane is a Data Scientist working for Cast and Beehive Giving, who has produced an analysis of applications to the Tech for Good programme, as well as a searchable directory of applications. Please see his introduction to this analysis below.
As part of applying to the Tech for Good funding programme, applicants were informed that their application would be made public even if they were unsuccessful.
This meant that when Comic Relief asked us to analyse the applications to the fund we could expand the scope of analysis beyond just the ten successful applications. Looking at all applications allows us to look at wider trends – such as who is asking for tech for good funding, what do they want to do with it, and what stage of digital development are they at.
The analysis looks at five main questions:
– What types of technology are being developed?
– What approaches are adopted?
– What’s the focus of the application?
– Who are the target audience?
– What stage of development are the projects?
Surprisingly, the first of these was the most difficult to answer. Reflecting the criteria of the fund, the projects were generally at the concept or pilot stage. This meant that applicants had often not yet come to decisions about the technology they would be using – and described the project outputs in more general terms as an “app” or “website”. I believe this should be seen as a positive – a sign that applicants were focusing on the problems they wanted to solve, rather than letting the technology drive the project goals.
You can read more answers to the questions above in the application analysis. The analysis showed that the typical application was from a larger registered charity based in London, but that there was variation beyond that typical picture. The largest focus of applications was on health and wellbeing, and generally applicants were aiming to provide services directly to beneficiaries.
We have redesigned our website and we hope you like it.
It’s currently work-in-progress and we’ll be announcing the Tech For Good 2016-2017 funded project soon so keep an eye on here!
Blog post by Nissa Ramsay, Comic Relief’s grants digital innovation manager
In October, Comic Relief opened our Tech for Good funding initiative for 2016-17. The aim of the initiative is to support those organisations creating digital products and services that are both technologically innovative, and which have the potential to address some of our biggest social challenges.
To help develop our Tech for Good programme, we have been closely following growth and best practice within the sector, and as a result we seen some really inspiring projects that have combined innovative use of new technologies with a clear need for change to make breakthroughs that will have a real impact on people’s lives.
In 2015 we were asked to judge the prestigious NT100 awards that recognise inspirational work in this area. The top three awards from our selection were Tap for Life (helping midwives delivering babies outside referral facilities), Instant Detect (a camera trap system using satellite technology for remote wildlife monitoring and preventing poaching, led by Zoological Society of London) and PulseGuard (an epilepsy alarm worn during sleep). Each of these projects demonstrated the impact technology can have organisations’ work, transforming their ability to achieve their goals.
This experience has helped us confirm the key principles and best practice that we would like to see in the social tech that we fund – in particular the importance of addressing a clearly defined problem effectively, being designed with user needs at their heart and making a clear tangible difference to those that need them.
At the same time, we’ve been testing our approach to supporting the Tech for Good field over the past few years. In 2015, we delivered a pilot funding programme that clearly proved that there was a strong demand for grant-making in this area, and quickly enabled us to demonstrate the potential for technology to be transformative in the way people live. For example, one of the projects we funded in the pilot stage, called Wayfindr, uses beacons and Bluetooth technology to help visually impaired people to move around indoor transport environments. Our grant enabled them to build an alliance of key partners to start developing a consistent way of providing this navigation. This has won numerous awards and attracted £1million from the Google Impact Challenge Fund.
In addition to the impact they can have on people’s lives, projects such as Wayfindr have also demonstrated how Tech for Good funding offers a launch pad for projects, helping them progress to the next phase of their development. This has spurred us on to find and support digital projects within the charitable sector that can become beacons of best practice and lead the way for Tech for Good.
For 2016-17 we will publish our longlist of applications to help build an increasing knowledge of organisations working in this space and in turn, to help them attract new investment.
We know that the innovation and quality of technological development can only improve with more collaboration and sharing of knowledge. For this reason, the application will be via a video hosted on YouTube or Vimeo. We are also co-funding this initiative with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to help support the development of their digital funding strategy.
Ultimately, our goal is to fund some great projects that have the potential to effect real social change. What makes these so exciting and important is that they are genuinely designed with the needs, voices and experiences of those they are intended to benefit at their heart, based on real data. We’re looking forward to showcasing our final funded 10 projects, and sharing the learning from their development work.
Ultimately, we know technology will change all of our lives (for better or worse) and help us to tackle the world’s biggest problems. Much of the investment and innovation in this area will come from the largest technology, communications and pharmaceutical companies. However, some of the most innovative solutions emerge from the need to address a specific problem and later realising its wider application. What Three Words is a prime example – the need for every place on earth to have an address. Charities, social change projects and other third sector initiatives therefore have a huge role to play helping to identify and develop solutions that will transform people’s lives, which is why we are so excited to be launching the new funding programme.
You can find out more about the projects we support and find the longlist once it is published here.