London Met teams up with Queen Mary University and UCL to launch social venture fund

The London Social Venture Fund will provide funding for early-stage London startups

Date: 02 November 2023

London Met has partnered with Queen Mary University and UCL to secure a bid for a joint venture, The London Social Venture Fund. A substantial grant has been awarded, at the value of £1.5m across the project and partners involved. 

The mission of the venture is to create a collaborative fund to support new startups which are driven by a positive social purpose. London Met’s knowledge and experience developing early-stage enterprises as well as our commitment to our local partners and mission for social justice, meant we were the ideal partners to contribute to the bidding process. 

To support a growing number of social ventures emerging from universities, a new coalition of London universities and partners has been formed to generate a critical mass of new social ventures, substantial enough to raise a permanent self-sustaining fund that will back university social ventures emerging across the capital. Funding for the project has been awarded by Research England to the tune of £1.5 million.  

The London Social Venture Fund will seek to provide early funding for new London startups pursuing a social goal. To get there, a new project led by Queen Mary and UCL has brought together an innovative coalition of London universities and partners to generate a critical mass of new social ventures activity, which will provide the foundations to raise an investment fund that can back university social ventures emerging across the capital.  

London Met’s commitment to supporting socially-driven small to medium enterprises continues to go from strength to strength. More recently, we have partnered with one of our Accelerator-supported start-ups, Filisia Interfaces UK, on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). This innovative project will harness the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to help develop bespoke interventions for people with additional needs.  

Maeva Khachfe, Associate Director for Knowledge and Research Exchange & Enterprise, commented: “Startups and small business ventures make up the backbone of the UK economy. We have a long-standing reputation for supporting small businesses, so we are proud to be involved in the London Social Venture Fund and its mission to inject funding into some of London’s biggest ideas and budding entrepreneurs. This initiative aims to make a real difference to communities across London and beyond. We’re so pleased to be a part of what will be a significant support for startups driven by a shared goal of delivering social good to citizens.” 

New ventures pipeline 

Social ventures emerging from a university’s knowledge base have massive potential to create social and economic impact – yet often struggle to secure enough funding and support to grow.  

The project will build a pipeline of new ventures from London universities and develop a London-wide university support network of legal support, business model development and mentoring. Beyond that, the consortium hopes to build critical mass by gathering sufficient data to demonstrate proof of concept for this approach and share the lessons learned with like-minded colleagues across the UK.  

Dr Phil Clare, Chief Executive of Queen Mary Innovation, said: “This project is all about benefiting London through social entrepreneurship. There’s been an explosion of interest in social ventures in recent years, as academics, students, and indeed all members of university communities are turning to commercial tools to tackle the myriad problems we face in our society.” 

Addressing the challenges 

Social ventures set up by academics and students are going from strength to strength in Britain, yet significant hurdles remain which the Social Venture Fund seeks to address.  

Challenges include the lack of financial or impact data available on performance of research-based social ventures, public procurement complexities, and the current lack of diversity when it comes to startup founders. 

The London Social Ventures Fund intends to address these issues by generating high quality performance data, providing support for companies to navigate procurement processes, and by backing university social ventures which tend to be more representative of minoritised groups. 

An outside view of London Met's Graduate Centre