To best catalyse global change, engineering innovations have to be people-centred and impact driven - like EWB UK building flood defences in rural Kenya or designing low-cost water filters in Mexico. However, modern-day engineering is fast diverging from this ethos, focusing on profits not people: our solution aims to get it back on track.
We propose a social-impact motivated incubator, funding engineering companies/startups that demonstrate their desire to create positive change (either in the people their innovations impact or in the engineering field itself) but critically, can also substantiate these aims with quantifiable targets that release funding upon being met. For example, if a startup wants to increase the accessibility of insulin monitors then upon applying for funding, they must specify targets - like producing 1000 monitors - and we shall release the funding in batches depending on when these targets are reached. Moreover, we shall stipulate that each company we fund must run workshops promoting engineering to underprivileged primary school children - helping the companies demonstrate their commitment to driving social change within engineering and potentially inspiring the next generation of engineers (critically - from diverse backgrounds). Thus, our non-profit solution funds current changemakers whilst also inspiring future engineers and innovators.
We propose a bifurcated funding strategy:
Aggregating small donations from a large number of contributors - like crowdfunding campaigns (thereby providing enough money for Series 1 funding of the startups we choose to support).
Wealth funds - both Sovereign Wealth Funds (citing the success of Norway’s SWF) but also Corporate Social Responsibility programs funded by large corporations (enforcing charters that ensure that major donors don’t have undue influence over the companies/startups we support). This second funding source will allow further business scaling.
This solution has the potential to refocus the engineering field back towards its very core: innovating to change people’s lives.