Last week we held our ninth BGV Demo Day, celebrating the 11 startups that have been through our 12 week intensive accelerator programme this autumn. Over 200 mentors, alumni, investors, supporters and friends gathered to hear the startups give their pitches on their tech for good ventures - we called these startups our practical optimists. And we think it's practical optimism that's going to solve today's big problems. Here's Paul's opening speech from the night:
"Now, I don’t know about you but I feel like 2016 has been a very strange year. Politics seems to have gone mad and for the first time in my life it’s felt at times like the peddlers of fear might be winning. They’ve been able to play on inequality, alienation and insecurity to gain power. And the progressive ideal - the basic belief that we can and should make the world a better place - has taken a hammering.
Technology has been getting it in the neck for being part of the problem. Fake News, the Filter Bubble, technology companies not paying enough tax, algorithms discriminating by race or gender and robots stealing our jobs. It’s not a pretty list.
But then I take a step back and look at what’s been happening at BGV.
Each time we open up applications, it’s like standing in a firehose of positivity. We hear from people who have found a problem, understood it and want to solve it. They’re not naive optimists. They know that building a new company is hard. They know that creating change takes time. That sometimes you need to persuade, cajole and hustle to get things done.
And we love meeting them and working with them. Our mission at BGV is to build a huge helpful, friendly community of people building things by using their skills for good. We want to show that technology can be used to help solve the challenges of the modern world. That it can improve health, help us learn, make our world more sustainable and yes, even improve our democracy.
Fear doesn’t solve problems. Fear doesn’t build things. It’s practical optimism that does.
Tonight you’re going to meet our latest group of practical optimists. Our tech for good founders working on everything from improving the health of children through to tackling loneliness amongst older people and startups that are helping with everything from community transport through to supporting the victims of domestic abuse."
Keep an eye on our blog as we'll be posting videos from the night soon.