Meet the Fellows: Nick Benton, Big Society Capital

There’s just one week to go until Demo Day – the final event of Lab Fellowship, when our Fellows will pitch to investors, potential partners and key members of the Lab community. Before the big event, get to know Lab Fellow Nick in our penultimate Meet the Fellows blog.

Nick Benton is Data & Portfolio Director at Big Society Capital – an independent investment institution providing finance to social sector organisations across the UK. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Nick has a strong track record in social entrepreneurship and purpose-led business, including establishing a debt counselling centre in London. In his current role, he is responsible for all the data Big Society Capital holds on investments across the social investment market.

Unlike the other Fellows in this year’s cohort who are starting or leading new businesses and organisations, Nick took part in Fellowship as an intrapreneur – creating change from within an existing financial institution. At the Lab we believe that intrapreneurship, or  ‘innovating from the inside’, has a vital role to play in creating systemic change in finance.  Find out more in this blog by the Lab’s Head of Intrapreneurship, Lydia Hascott.

Nick joined Fellowship with the question: how might data be used to more effectively measure the real, human impact of investments? Currently, impact assessment relies on imperfect metrics, defined by investors (as opposed to the beneficiaries) and different for each project or fund. Nick sees an opportunity to harness the power of data to solve this problem and measure impact in new, powerful ways that put people first. Through Fellowship he has been exploring how it might be possible to generate impact data from the bottom up, in a responsible way, that enables investors to direct their capital towards human flourishing.

Taking part in Lab Fellowship has not only supported Nick to define the purpose his project, and understand his role as an intrapreneur, but also explore in further depth some of the thorny issues around the responsible use of data and data ethics. Nick has utilised the challenging but supportive space offered by Fellowship to grapple with these questions. He comments:

“What I’ve valued the most about Lab Fellowship is the way each session is held together by the team. They stretch us and demand a lot of us, getting us to think hard and ask ourselves the difficult questions – but it’s all done in a safe and encouraging environment. The weekend leadership retreats and Action Learning peer-coaching sessions have been particularly transformational.”

For his next steps, Nick would love to connect with data scientists and fellow intrapreneurs in Big Tech who would like to share their knowledge and support his work to direct more capital towards human flourishing.

You can meet all the 2019 Fellows here. Find out more about Lab Fellowship here, and follow #LabFellowship on Twitter next week for live tweets from Demo Day!

The views expressed in this blog represent those of Nick and not his employer.