Brisbane’s Impact Academy accelerator has welcomed its tenth ever cohort, as it surpasses the milestone of 100 social impact startups supported in the 20-week program.
Part of the Greater Outcomes social innovation and impact investment hub, the Impact Academy was launched as a response to more and more people “looking to use their skills and experiences to make the world a better place”, founder Peter Ball tells StartupSmart.
Including this latest 18-strong cohort, 109 enterprises will have been through the program, including those from all over the country, and further afield too.
“There is a phenomenal need for a program like this,” Ball says.
“People are using business and commerce and trade to look at how they can solve social and environmental issues has spiked phenomenally.”
At the same time, investors are seeing how “attractive and investible” this kind of business can be.
The sector is growing in maturity for two main reasons, Ball says.
“Governments are looking for more sustainable and scalable ways to solve social issues,” he explains.
There’s also interest from corporates that are “very much interested in participating in grassroots social innovation”, and how they can support social ventures with a “tangible, measurable outcome”.
“We’re moving well beyond what we thought was corporate social responsibility a year or two ago.”
Secondly, however, we have seen an increase in “conscious consumerism”, Ball says.
If a consumer is going to buy something anyway, they’re choosing to buy from a company that is doing good, he adds. Their “wallet spend” is more focused on companies being proactive about making positive change.
And some of the biggest brands in the world are taking note.
For example, in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Adidas has created a whole line of trainers made of recycled ocean plastic, Ball notes.
From blockchain-for-good to plastic apparel to empowered communities, here are five of the most interesting startups making up the tenth Impact Academy cohort.
Seer Data is intended to strengthen communities by giving them a voice. The platform makes data and analysis accessible and easy to understand, allowing users to use real statistics – rather than anecdotes – to help influence policymakers and budgets.
Founded by Kristi Mansfield and Adam Peaston, the startup strives to make the power of data available to ‘non-data people’. It allows users to search for specific statistics or data sets, to compare results, and to store insights to come back to later.
Finally, Seer Data is designed to be as transparent as possible, offering access to the source of the data, plus links to supporting material.
MioTAG was born out of frustration when founder Maree Machin saw her underwater camera swept away, and all her treasured images lost to the current.
The would-be founder realised her camera would wash ashore somewhere, but that whoever found it would have no way of returning it to her.
MioTAG provides hardy tags, linked to a personal account, for those items that are so easily misplaced, allowing good samaritans to scan a QR code and find details of how to return them.
Founded by Marc Holt, Eggion is an e-learning platform creating personalised study plans for high school students, with a focus on work-life balance and reducing anxiety ahead of exam time.
The platform encourages students to set their own goals and offers tips and reminders to help them stay on track to reach them.
By focusing on motivation and encouraging healthy study habits, Eggion is designed to help students learn more effectively while reducing their stress levels, and helping them retain information for longer.
Tokens for Humanity
Tokens for Humanity calls itself ‘charity 2.0’, and is the first blockchain-enabled charity to be recognised by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
Founder Frederick Brien and Bryce Thomas have a vision of reimagining what charity governance will look like in the future, using blockchain to improve transparency around director decisions and funding distributions.
Through blockchain technology, people will be able to view records and make sure their donations are being spent in the way the charity says they are – thereby encouraging more donations in the long run.
Based in India, Project Waymore founder Subramanian Ramvijji is one of the participants completing the Impact Academy remotely.
The startup is tackling plastic pollution in the oceans by turning bottles into polyester yarn, and then into upcycled t-shirts – also infused with recycled cotton for breathability.
Waymore also focuses on championing change and creating a culture for reusing or recycling plastics, rather than scrapping them.
The process sees plastics broken down into shreds and melted into micro-pellets before being turned into yarn, and with ten bottles to each tee, Ramvijji is chipping away at the problem one garment at a time.