The Aspect network launches a new accelerator, in collaboration with LSE, in support of socially-responsible startups. This is part of a £5 million government initiative to promote social sciences innovation.
The new Aspect Student Accelerator Programme (ASAP) is the first joint-university accelerator of its kind in Europe, funded by the Aspect programme, connecting students from 8 top UK universities from within the Aspect community with academics and industry leaders to develop their social ventures. The traditional entrepreneurship model is changing, the accelerator aims to address specific gaps and challenges faced by social sciences entrepreneurs.
The accelerator brings together a community of like-minded student and alumni entrepreneurs who are looking to create scalable socially impactful businesses. All participants are contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through the socially-responsible running and output of their businesses. Nineteen teams are participating in the pilot, which launched in September 2020. The cohort is now focussing on finalising their business proposals ahead of the final Demo Day in January 2021.
Working to maximise social impact presents a unique set of challenges to start-ups. The programme content adapts existing frameworks and tailors them to social ventures to build sustainable businesses with clear and measurable impact outcomes.
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The programme is being delivered through a series of online workshops by industry leaders covering start-up essentials from product development, sales strategy, to operations and leadership. This is complemented by tailored online resources, community outreach assignments and a bespoke speaker series featuring some of the world’s top social entrepreneurs. Notable guest speakers so far include top 10 UK Social Entrepreneur Sharath Jeevan, and co-founder and CEO of Nunbelievable, Bryan Janeczko.
Moving the programme online in light of the current pandemic has presented its challenges but also opened up opportunities to broaden the reach of the programme. The cohort consists of founders from across the world including Uganda based health tech startup TatuNurse and Columbian AI startup DignifyAI. The online delivery of the programme has also enabled it to fully utilise LSE’s renowned international network with virtual workshops led by experts around the world including New York based branding specialist Rani Dagpal and pricing expert Ed Lee, CEO of Californian startup HelloAdvisr. Throughout the programme, the cohort will be supported by unique 1:1 mentoring opportunities with leaders in the social impact space.
LJ Silverman, the Director of LSE Generate (the university’s entrepreneurship centre) said: “We are incredibly excited to be creating a space for social science entrepreneurs to build their businesses. As part of the brilliant Aspect network, we know that the traditional entrepreneurship model is changing. A strong business idea can come from any sector and any industry, including social sciences. Supporting innovative entrepreneurship is at the heart of our purpose as the Aspect network and as a higher educational institution dedicated to social sciences. The team and I are extremely proud of the entrepreneurs in what has been an exceptionally challenging period.”
The accelerator will end with a Demo Day, where founders will pitch their businesses to potential VCs and investors on the (27th) of January 2021. The event will take place from 5-7 pm GMT. Sign up to the demo day here – https://hopin.com/events/asap-demo-day