Big Giver: The Nominet Trust

Annika Small, the trust's chief executive, talks to Jenna Pudelek about how it gives grants to projects that innovate with technology

Annika Small
Annika Small

The Nominet Trust was launched by one of the world's largest internet registries, so it's apt that it supports projects that use online tools to address social problems. The trust receives between £5m and £7m a year from Nominet - the organisation responsible for domain name space - which it invests in innovative ideas that use technology.

Annika Small, the trust's chief executive, says: "We're looking for out-of-the-ordinary, imaginative applications from any individual or organisation.

"It's about thinking differently with technology, and there must be a social impact. We fund projects with the potential to scale up and make a big difference." Small says this does not involve adding digital functions, such as websites, to existing services.

Some grants worth in the region of £50,000 to £150,000 are awarded for ideas that support young people and the elderly. "We can look at some persistent social challenges in different ways by using technology," says Small.

A recent grant of £150,000 went to Rewired State, a network of software developers and designers that organises 'hack days', when members converge to solve problems for clients. The cash was used to develop a micro-employment platform for young people. Small says the project will involve pitching to companies to take on young people for short-term jobs involving technology, such as coding, programming or web development.

The trust has also funded Carers UK to develop an online network for relatives, neighbours and friends to coordinate care for older people living in their own homes. Small says the trust wants its beneficiaries to feel able to take risks that could lead to innovative solutions. "We also give a lot of support to organisations to put forward evidence that will give confidence to large funders or commercial partners to take on their solutions," she says.

The trust also has a £1m innovation fund, which awards grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 to applicants with ideas that bring social change outside its two main funding areas.

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