To date, the Design to Improve Life Fund has invested in eight solutions from the 2017 award cycle – comprising a broad selection of international companies from pre-seed to growth stage, Series C.
“Since 2005, the award has shown just how instrumental design can be when used to solve pressing real-world issues,” says CEO Liza Chong. “Now, by investing in these game-changing businesses we can ensure impact. “The fund will help prove that doing good and good business can go hand-in-hand.”
what3words, the first investee, is a revolutionary addressing system designed to be the easiest way to find and share locations. The fund’s investment into what3words was made alongside lead investors Aramex, an international logistics company, and Deutsche Bahn – the world’s second-largest transport company.
“INDEX has recognised that a simple way to communicate location can fundamentally improve lives across the world,” says Giles Rhys Jones, CMO of what3words. “We are delighted to receive support from the fund as it allows us to give addresses to those who need it most.”
To date, seven other investments have been made into Index Award companies, which tackle a range of global challenges from disability assistance to energy production. The companies, among others, include Iris.AI (NO/US): an artificial intelligence program to aid research and development; Seaborg Technologies (DK): a company developing sustainable, safe and cheap nuclear technology; Circuit Scribe (US): conductive ink pens to aid learning in electronics and engineering;AVA (US): an app that instantly transcribes conversation for the deaf or hard-of-hearing; Ignitia (SE): an SMS-based weather forecasting model, twice as accurate as current local models, designed for remote farmers; and Agribuddy (HK/KH): an education and support platform helping remote farmers improve their productivity and efficiency.
“By getting into these rounds, this proves the entire thesis of the fund: that companies look beyond the financial capital that typical venture funds offer,” explains Liza Chong.
“INDEX is in a unique position where our brand and network enable us to get into larger rounds, like a Series C, with a very modest investment amount. “We are seen as a strategic investor with a strong design legacy and real credibility within the sustainability space.”
Investees like Seaborg Technologies are a testament to this fact, placing particular importance on having shared values with their investors.
“Mankind faces a number of monumental challenges with no easy or short-term solutions,” says Troels Schönfeldt, CEO of Seaborg Technologies. “Visionary and bold investors like INDEX are vital if we want to succeed in solving these issues. “With this investment, Seaborg has become the largest reactor design startup in Europe, putting Denmark at the forefront of the field.”
The investors in the fund are composed of Danish and international private investors, including Adam Milgrom, Gregers Kronborg, Silja Nyboe Andersen and Chairman of the INDEX: Design to Improve Life® Board Jens Wittrup Willumsen.
“For me, it makes a difference to know that the businesses I invest in have sustainability high on the agenda,” says Jens Wittrup Willumsen. “The INDEX: Award pipeline is born with sustainability DNA and an ambition to meet market return – the best of both worlds”.