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The impact of Cambridge Social Ventures

From fashion to farming, prisons to prosthetics, endangered animals to endangered languages, Cambridge Social Ventures has seen a lot in our first three years!

We’ve supported some high-flying tech ventures as well as deeply impactful community programmes, particularly in the East of England.

Our programmes reach a diverse range of people: we see a 60:40 split of women to men, and above-average representation from non-white backgrounds and non-Christian religious backgrounds.

The evidence collected so far shows that the ventures we support are making an impact, with increasing numbers of beneficiaries and success against their chosen social impact metric.

Formal impact reports from several ventures show real social impact and social return on investment (SROI).

  • Repositive | Human genomic data repository | Raised £500k led by Amadeus Capital, on top of £300k raised previously, currently finalising Series A funding.
  • LifNano | Multiple Sclerosis treatment | Awarded £1 million from Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst.
  • KisanHub | Agriculture data platform | Raised £750k investment led by Notion Capital.
  • GeneAdviser | Genetic testing platform | Raised £350k seed round led by Jonathan Milner.
  • Healthera | Pharmaceutical management app | Seed round led by Cambridge Enterprise (amount undisclosed).
  • Form the Future | Employability for school students | Secured a £380k contract through the Greater Cambridge City Deal.
  • Footprints Café | Ecotourism in Cambodia | £300,000 private donation from Darrin Disley.
  • Hearts Milk Bank | Donor milk for sick babies Secured £250k loan and raised £14.5k in crowdfunding.
  • Harry Specters | Chocolate made by autistic people | Raised £140k in loans and bonds.
  • Amaella | Ethical organic lingerie | Crowdfunded £12,541 (goal was £10k).
  • Linguisticator | Language and memory tools | Crowdfunded £11,868 (target was £3k)

We also hold a dedicated loan fund for our social ventures with our partners at Foundation East, and have awarded loans many of our ventures, including AGRIinsight, Turtle Dove, Boston Body Hub, Recovery Hub Ipswich and GeneAdviser.

Our ventures have been celebrated by top international and local business competitions. It’s worth noting that most of these are not specifically for social ventures – our entrepreneurs hold their own against start-ups of all stripes. 

Hyperion Development. Innovation Challenge

Venture: Hyperion Development

Hyperion Development won a $150,000 top award from the Innovation Challenge in Africa, established by Facebook to support computer science training in South Africa.

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MassChallenge UK 2016.

MassChallenge UK 2016

Ventures: Hearts Milk Bank CIC and Prison Voicemail

The Hearts Milk Bank CIC was a £10,000 Gold Winner and Prison Voicemail a UK finalist.

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MassChallenge UK 2015.

MassChallenge UK 2015

Venture: Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems

Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems (CBAS), a medical devices company making a dedicated connector for amputated limbs, were named as a winner of the MassChallenge 2015,taking home the top prize of £50,000.

Pitch@Palace 6.0.

[email protected] 6.0

Ventures: Prison Voicemail, Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems and Vocalens

Prison Voicemail, Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems and LifNano Therapeutics have been finalists and pitched at St James’ Palace. Vocalens was selected for their boot camp

Digital Innovators Power List 2016.

Digital Innovators Power List 2016, City AM

Ventures: Goshawk Communications and Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems

Both Goshawk Communications and Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems named in the healthtech list.

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Pistoia Alliance President’s Startup Challenge 2015

Venture: Repositive

Repositive received a cash prize of US$15,000 and a period of six months of expert mentorship from a senior industry figure drawn from the Pistoia Alliance membership.

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Business Weekly Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2016.

Business Weekly Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2016

Venture: GeneAdviser

Jelena Aleksic of genetic testing company GeneAdviser was named winner of the inaugural Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

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Jelena Aleksic.

BioBeat 50 Movers and Shakers

Venture: GeneAdviser

Jelena Aleksic has been named as a rising star in the BioBeat 50 Movers and Shakers Report, which identifies women who are challenging the status quo to bring new strategies and creativity to the global healthcare industry.

2016 FDM Everywoman in Technology Award.

2016 FDM Everywoman in Technology Award

Venture: GeneAdviser

Jelena Aleksic, CEO and Co-founder of GeneAdviser.

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Cambridge News Top Innovation 2016.

Cambridge News Top Innovation 2016

Venture: Play Physio 

Will Jackson of Play Physio was honoured in Cambridge News’ Top Innovation 2016 listing.

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Cambridge Wireless Discovering Start-Ups 2015

Venture: GeneAdviser

GeneAdviser, a social enterprise making genetic testing for rare diseases more accessible to clinicians around the world, was named a winner of the Cambridge Wireless Discovering Start-Ups competition.

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As they grow their ventures, our entrepreneurs develop amazing campaigns, partnerships and events.

John Willis (Power2Inspire)

John Willis completed his #Road2Rio Challenge – born without fully formed arms and legs, he played every single Olympic and Paralympic sport, with prosthetics built by fellow incubatee Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems.

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Aspuna and AGRIinsight

Aspuna and AGRIinsight are collaborating on data analytics for smallholder farmers in The Gambia.

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GAP Learning

GAP Learning held an exhibition of artworks created by the at-risk people they support at the University of Cambridge Library.

Goshawk Communications

Goshawk Communications (phone signal boosting for hearing loss) ran a successful field trial on the Isle of Man.

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Repositive became the world’s largest portal for human genomic data, entered an agreement with AstraZeneca and launched a specialised Chinese dataset.

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Cambridge Social Ventures is firmly embedded in the Cambridge entrepreneurial ecosystem and the social sector across the UK. Our goal is to expand the opportunities available for social entrepreneurs and create opportunities to work in the social sector.

  • Investor events: a ‘speed-dating’ evening and an introduction to social and impact investing.
  • Health authorities and commissioners joined a meeting with our health-sector ventures.
  • Tech4Good Cambridge events supported with partners at Allia.
  • Indian social business incubator developed in collaboration with VIT University Chennai, funded by the British Council. 
  • Student events held with Cambridge Judge MBA students, Entrepreneurial Postdoc Society and Office of Postdoctoral affairs, and further events planned with undergraduates and student clubs.
  • Cambridge Judge Masters of Social Innovation students spent time with our ventures at the Future Business Centre.
  • Student mentors were trained to advise entrepreneurs at Social Venture Weekend.
  • Work to Change the World careers day at University of Cambridge and open days at Cambridge Judge Business School attracted lots of interest from students and emerging entrepreneurs.
  • Linguisticator held a hackathon and The Helpful Clinic held an ‘impactathon’ in our co-working space at Future Business Centre.