With 365 applications across 34 countries, the number of applications for the SEIF Awards Tech for Impact has hit a record high. Switzerland is in the lead representing more than 40% of the impact startups who are now competing for a total of CHF 40’000.

Looking at the number of applications, Germany represents the second largest country with 14% followed by Sweden (6%), the Netherlands, France and the UK with 3.5% respectively.

Tech for Impact & the SDGs

Most solutions address SDG 13: Climate Action, shortly followed by Good Health and Well-being; Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure; Sustainable Cities & Communities; Reduced Inequalities; Decent Work & Economic Growth; Quality Education.

Technologies applied range from AI and digital solutions to IoT.

We are excited to have received so many interesting applications with great solutions to create positive impact all over the world. This underlines both the relevance and potential of impact tech entrepreneurship in reaching the UN SDGs, says Program Lead Maria Ljung.

Technology can be a great tool for positive change.

International focus

More than 50% of the impact startups have an international focus, followed by 30% with a national focus. 36.5% of the impact entrepreneurs have female founders or co-founders.

Beyond the CHF 40’000 at stake, the SEIF Awards represent a great opportunity for early stage impact tech entrepreneurs to increase international awareness, gain reputation, connect with impact investors and a broader network of impact driven stakeholders.

The relevant stage of development is also reflected in the applications. The majority of the impact entrepreneurs are in the market entry and proof of concept phase, followed by about one fifth currently in the growth stage. Less than 1% of the applicants are in the scaling phase.

What about financing? Own capital and public funding

When it comes to financing, the majority of the applicants still largely rely on own capital and public funding as their main source of finance. Investing own capital is common, considering that early stage startups may not provide a salary in the beginning, or that founders might work a paid job on the side. It is a challenge, but own investments also reassure investors that the idea is worthwhile.

Structural gap in the first impact investing rounds

Although own capital is common, and many times necessary, for early stage impact entrepreneurs our recently published white paper also shows a structural gap in the first impact investing rounds. With investment volumes between CHF 0.5 million and 5 million.

“More recently, it has become increasingly apparent that many promising young companies have difficulties finding financial support particularly the range of one to three million CHF in a first investment round”, says SEIF founder Prof. Mariana Christen Jakob.

Are you interested to learn more on this topic? Download our white paper on challenges and opportunities for small sized impact investing funds here.

SEIF Awards 2020: an overview

What are the SEIF Awards Tech for Impact?

The SEIF Awards Tech for Impact target European impact entrepreneurs who develop or make innovative use of technologies to tackle social and/or environmental challenges and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Why Tech for Impact?

When it comes to technological progress and global challenges, we live in fascinating yet demanding times. Technology can be a great tool for positive change, as innovative technologies often represent highly scalable solutions with potential to make a significant contribution to reach the UN SDGs. At the same time, we need to be aware of the potential negative impact it may bring along. This is why it is crucial to foster the positive potential of impact driven tech entrepreneurs.

The next steps

At SEIF, we believe it is crucial to foster the positive potential of technology. This not only means integrating the impact dimension in the newest technological developments, but also to conduct and communicate the impact management and measurement transparently. We are pleased to see that a growing community starts to think in this direction and want to thank all applicants for their invaluable contributions to the SEIF Awards 2020!

Did you apply for the SEIF Awards 2020? You will hear from us soon! In the meantime, you will find the latest information here.