Nominet Trust’s director on innovative technology for good (Interview) » Charity Digital News

Nominet Trust’s director on innovative technology for good (Interview)


We recently caught up with Vicki Hearn, director of Nominet Trust, to discuss its use of innovative technology and reasons why it has been chosen as a finalist in the Digital Leaders 100 Awards.

Can you describe Nominet Trust’s mission in a sentence?

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading ‘tech for good’ funder, bringing together and investing in people making imaginative use of technology to address complex social challenges.

Can you give an example of an innovative tech for good project Nominet Trust has supported?

Since its inception, Nominet Trust has invested more than £21m in over 800 social tech ventures benefiting millions of people across the UK and internationally.  We’ve been inspired by the imaginative use of technology to address some of society’s most persistent challenges – including those in the health sector.

Each year, it is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem, while one in six experience a neurotic disorder such as anxiety or depression.  Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the UK today, yet it is under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated. Flowy from Playlab London is a uniquely designed mobile game which people with panic or anxiety disorders use to help manage their mental health, harnessing the science of breathing to calm them down.  The user touches the screen of their device while inhaling and removes touch while exhaling; the controls then translate their breathing into the game world.  In trials Flowy has produced measurable decreases in anxiety and panic symptoms.

Nominet Trust awarded Playlab London a £50,000 grant under our 2013 Social Tech, Social Change programme and has also provided further funding to support development of their marketing and communications strategy.  Flowy v1.2 is now available to download on Google play.

Nominet Trust is a finalist in the DL100 awards – congratulations! Why do you think you’ve been chosen?

Nominet Trust’s investments, advocacy and partnerships have all contributed to the development of a vibrant social technology sector in the UK and the Trust is thrilled to have been selected as one of the DL100 finalists. It is a testament to the industry’s recognition of the breadth of the Trust’s work over the last seven years, bringing ‘tech for good’ into the public consciousness.

The Trust believes that technology provides the opportunity to transform how we address persistent social challenges. By providing early-stage funding and growth support to social entrepreneurs, Nominet Trust has contributed to positioning the UK as a global leader of digital social innovation.

Nominet Trust has also led by example in championing the work of others in the tech for good space. It has launched public awareness campaigns such as the annual NT100 award and Social Tech Guide – both a celebration of the most inspiring global examples of digital technology used for social good and a much-needed resource for this growing sector, shining a spotlight on pioneering ideas from all over the world.

The key to continuing this legacy will be through education and, to that end, the Trust has been actively supporting young people of all ages to become digital makers. Partnerships with Aardman animations (Shaun’s Game Academy), Mozilla and Nesta (Make Things Do Stuff) have focused on supporting young people to develop essential digital skills.  Last year Nominet Trust, in partnership with HRH The Duke of York, founded iDEA – the inspiring Digital Enterprise Award which, over the next five years, aims to help one million young people aged 14-25 to develop digital and enterprise skills. iDEA is an initiative that is recognised for its outstanding competition that supports young people to grow a digital business idea from concept to market product and also for its promotion of industry endorsed digital badges so that skills acquired can be demonstrated to prospective employers.

What’s in store for the rest of 2015?

We’ll be continuing our highly respected grants programme that combines funding with proactive business support to help early stage social enterprises demonstrate their social, user and financial value. The next round of funding opens this autumn, so check our website and follow us on Twitter (@nominettrust) for further details as they are released.

NT100 is very much front of mind for us right now as we kick off this year’s programme of work to gather more inspiring examples of digital social innovation from around the world.

We’ll continue to lead the development of the tech for good industry through data-driven research, campaigns and cross-sector partnerships.  The iDEA programme has recently established its own legal entity to enable many more young people to be supported in realising their ambitions in digital enterprise and we will continue to support the initiative under this new organisation.  Following a successful pilot, we’re thrilled to be working with Comic Relief again in a new partnership – more on this to be announced soon and we look forward to sharing news on the health-tech projects awarded funding under the West Midlands Interactive Healthcare Fund, in partnership with the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

We also have some exciting new ideas under discussion – but more on these as they unfold!



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  • Jamie Wilson

    As a grateful recipient of NT’s funding, I can vouch for the outstanding support we have received from the organisation over the past year. This has enabled us to launch HomeTouch ( – an online platform to find affordable, high quality care – that raises the income of carers by up to 50% and has helped families access thousands of hours of elderly and disabled care across the London Area.