"The UK wants to be global leader in 'tech for social good', says digital secretary Jeremy Wright as he prepares for roundtable talks at Downing Street". But of course! What country wouldn't want to be at the centre of using tech to drive positive change? But while many established organisations are moving from a focus on profit to purpose, in line with consumer priorities, many Tech for Good companies are looking at this the other way around.
It's not just about purpose any more, but profit too.
Research published this week by Tech Nation found that the UK’s Tech for Good industry was worth £2.3bn in 2018 - more in turnover than consumer electronics manufacturers. And to date, profit-seeking tech-for-good businesses in the UK have collectively raised £1.09 billion in venture capital.
The myth that you have to forego profit in order to do good is well on its way to extinction. In fact, the data in Tech Nation's report indicates that purpose-driven organisations tend to outperform their competitors, both from a talent and revenue perspective.
When it comes to having an impact on both society and the UK economy, Tech Nation cites companies like Bulb, Deepmind and Depop as key successes. But it's also worth highlighting organisations like Salary Finance, which partners with employers to offer financial wellbeing benefits for employees to help them save and reduce debt; Too Good To Go, an app fighting food waste; and Folk2Folk, a P2P lender for rural businesses and SMEs.
Companies like these are changing the way we live our lives through technology, thanks to the UK's tech ecosystem and the investment available. But as consumers become increasingly concerned about the ethical credentials of tech, finding the balance between profit and purpose will be key.
“At a time of uncertainty and flux, the UK is poised to lead the world in applying technology for strategic social ends," said Sarah Wood, co-founder and chair of Unruly. "Our nation’s social safety net, coupled with a lively non-profit sector and bustling tech ecosystem, allow for a concentration of energy and talent that’s second-to-none. We have all the foundational pillars we need to be the global hub for tech-for-good; now we need to keep up the momentum and make sure we nurture these businesses as they expand their horizons beyond our shores.”