Futerra turned seventeen years old recently. And birthdays are always a useful time for reflection. Our goal, as our US CEO Freya Williams eloquently put it in her book ‘Green Giants’, is to ‘make the greens giant, and the giants green’. And that has always been our joint focus – working with the biggest clients, who can make the biggest potential difference in sustainability, and who have the ambition, aspiration and commitment to do so! But helping the greens become giant has always been a little trickier. Although we have had some success with our ‘Futerra Labs’ projects like Growing Underground and Fairfull, we’re always busy, small businesses are usually over-stretched and skint, and finding the time and energy to make it happen isn’t easy – for either side.
As a consequence I have personally ended up being involved in a lot of businesses alongside Futerra as a (modest) angel investor, non-executive director or mentor. These include Loco2, Demand Logic, Common Objective, and ET Index to name but a few. And in recent years I have increasingly found myself investing alongside a long standing friend, former client and now business partner Andy Wales, who has also invested in businesses as diverse as Apolitical, Blupoint and Buffalo Grid.
Andy and I were co-authors when we were both on the London Sustainable Development Commission of a report on London’s environmental entrepreneurial scene ‘Green Means Business’. We have become increasingly excited by the potential of innovative companies to reboot and re-energise the economy in ways that are both effective and sustainable.
So it was perhaps unsurprising that we would at some point end up starting our own accelerator – we want to help grow and develop the very types of business that we ourselves, and our networks actively want to invest in. There are of course MANY accelerators out there now, so why is ours different?
Well firstly it’s all about the Global Goals. Sustainability has a plan. With 17 goals and 169 targets. And we want to accelerate businesses that will similarly accelerate the delivery of the Global Goals. We’re open as to which goals and in which markets, but our broad theme is ‘UK Tech for International Development’, so we’re keen for applicants to be thinking creatively and laterally about their propositions.
Secondly we’re not reinventing the wheel – we’re partnering with Bethnal Green Ventures who have been running ‘Tech for Good’ accelerators successfully in London for six years, who already have an effective programme that we are plugging our accelerator businesses into. It’s proven. It’s popular. It’s practical. And it works!
Thirdly we’re adding our own value through our own professional expertise and experience. Andy and I bring (coughs) almost four decades of combined sustainability heritage between us. I’m looking forward to helping business hone their visions, purpose, positioning and messaging for my years at Futerra. Andy seeks to bring his international corporate expertise from senior roles in big business and as a WEF Young Global Leader. And we both bring significant networks for the ongoing support, development and possible partnership, investment and acquisition of the businesses we hope to nurture.
Finally it’s really about a direct personal opportunity to put our money where our mouths are. To directly invest in businesses with a deeply baked in sense of purpose, that seek to meet real human needs for people in emerging markets and to ultimately do well by doing good.
Our ambition is to build an evolving UK Tech for international development community, working together in complementary and transformative ways. With a view to expanding international co-creation and collaboration in the future between the UK and emerging markets.
We’re genuinely thrilled that our autumn programme is now open for applications. Please do spread the word to possible applicants and let’s try to make the Global Goals Accelerator the go-to place for UK Tech talent wanting to use their talents as a force for global good.