Skip to main content

Q&A: Nominet Trust on the NT100

The Nominet Trust 100 celebrates the people and organisations who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. Each year, it brings together 100 of the world's most inspiring examples of social innovation, where digital technologies have been used to tackle a significant social challenge. 

Nominet Trust Director, Vicki Hearn, shares her reflections on the NT100 in this Q&A: 

ITPP: In your words, please give an overview of the NT100 

VH: For the past three years, the NT100 has highlighted the world’s most remarkable examples of social innovation, where the internet and digital technology have been used to tackle critical social challenges. These projects are revolutionising healthcare and emergency response, transforming education, protecting the environment, and empowering communities. Previous alumni range from Google’s Project Loon increasing online access in remote communities and ZSL’s conservation tech, Instant Detect, to projects like Andiamo – a family start-up using 3D scanning and printing to produce children’s orthotics in just 48 hours, opposed to the standard 13 weeks!  

Now in its fourth year, the UK’s largest tech for good campaign will focus on celebrating the organisations and people driving the use of digital technology to change the world for the better. Adopting a theme of ‘Everyday Tech Heroes’, the 2016 NT100 will profile inspiring people who have seen the effects of a problem in their communities and creatively deployed technology to tackle it. By shining a spotlight on these ordinary people doing extraordinary things, Nominet Trust hopes to inspire more individuals to use technology to make a positive difference in the world. 

ITPP: What is the main purpose of Nominet Trust? 

VH: Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading tech for good funder, providing 100 per cent grant funding, mentoring and business support to organisations using digital technology to address significant social challenges. Through partnerships and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100, Nominet Trust mobilises new approaches that will influence and accelerate the use of tech for social good.  The annual Nominet Trust 100 (NT100) is a celebration of the 100 most inspiring social tech innovations from across the globe – shining a spotlight on the people and projects harnessing the power of tech for social good. 

ITPP: What inspired you or the founders to start Nominet Trust? 

VH: Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the smooth and secure running of the UK internet infrastructure. Nominet is an international internet company delivering public benefit and believes the internet is a powerful force for social and economic good. To date, Nominet has donated £39 million to Nominet Trust. As a result, Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech funder, bringing together, investing in and supporting people making imaginative use of technology to address complex social challenges. 

ITPP: How has the NT100 helped your organisation progress? 

VH: The NT100 is an amazing showcase of digital social innovation from around the globe, shining a spotlight on innovations which may otherwise go unnoticed. It aims to: Celebrate how much is being done by social innovators to tackle real social challenges, often under the radar. Learn from what has driven these social tech entrepreneurs and provide insights into what makes it possible for a social tech venture to have an impact at scale. 

Inspire others to follow in their steps, to raise the ambitions of social innovators using technology, and accelerate the use of digital technology as a tool for significant social change. This year we are also celebrating the incredible individuals behind the projects, the ‘Everyday Tech Heroes’ who - having seen the effects of a social problem in their own communities – have taken action by creatively deploying technology to tackle it. It’s about showcasing the people facing real problems every day, who are using the tech tools they have to hand to tackle the problems they are living, from the ground up! 

ITPP: What is the added value of tech when addressing social challenges? 

VH: Technology has changed the way we shop, bank, communicate, even how we find a date. It has the ability to disrupt the way social challenges are addressed, offering social entrepreneurs the ability to innovate in different ways and extend their reach and impact, making change happen on a larger scale than ever before.  Through the NT100, we have discovered social tech projects from around the world, changing lives and communities for the better. From health and education to climate change, using tech as simple as SMS messaging to cutting edge 3D printing, spanning the UK to Antarctica, there are tech for good ventures out there showing us what is possible when we apply technology to the world’s most pressing social challenges. 

ITPP: Who is your ‘Everyday Tech Hero’? 

VH: Nominet Trust has the pleasure of meeting amazing and inspirational Everyday Tech Heroes – everyday, working with talented and dedicated social tech entrepreneurs through our funding programmes and partnerships. A shining example of an Everyday Tech Hero from our 2015 NT100 is ElsaMarie D’Silva, co-founder of SafeCity. Elsa, a native of New Delhi, was working on women’s safety in Delhi’s public spaces when a female student was sexually attacked on a Delhi bus, and sadly subsequently died. 

Elsa said: ‘I got deeply involved in the issue in the aftermath of the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012. I decided to focus on making it easier for women and girls to report their experiences of sexual violence in public spaces, thus making the issue more visible and facilitating conversations around it.’ Elsa took action by reaching out to her community; SafeCity was born and began crowdsourcing stories of sexual violence and harassment: ‘Since we started in Dec 2012, we have been actively mapping in India, Kenya, Nepal and Cameroon. We have close to 10,000 reports, have done workshops for over 8,000 children and adults, worked on campaigns in over 10 neighbourhoods across Delhi and Mumbai improving the lives of at least 10,000 families. 

We advocate and engage online audiences through Facebook and Twitter and provide volunteering opportunities for several hundred people.’  

Image Credit: Nominet Trust 

Vicki Hearn, Director, Nominet Trust