In 2016 we built Lab Fellowship – the world’s first incubator for purpose-driven financial innovation. Following a successful pilot, we partnered with anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall in 2017 to support the best innovations for improving financial health through the Financial Health Fellowship. In 2019, our Data Fellowship supported innovations harnessing the power of data to build a financial system that serves people and planet.
Fellows are appointed for their potential to shape a different future for finance – one that’s responsible, democratic and fair. Tumelo is providing radical transparency for investors, while CoGo is helping people track the carbon impact of their spending. Urgentem is a leading provider of climate data to the finance industry, while the Rhino Impact Investment Project is creating the world’s first species protection bond. Open Credit Network is helping small businesses challenge the dominance of big banks, while Equal Care Co-op is putting power in the hands of people who give and receive care. Bippit is supporting financial wellbeing in the workplace, Elifinty is making money management simple, and NestEgg is reinvigorating responsible lending. Mortar is pioneering flexible rent payments, and StorkCard is helping parents baby-proof their finances.
Meet all 40 of our Fellowship alumni here.
The programme supports Fellows to test and refine their ideas with a wide range of stakeholders, build purpose-driven business strategies, and develop their ability and confidence to lead not only their business, but also wider systemic change. Fellows benefit from monthly business strategy sessions, peer coaching, specialist workshops, residential retreats, a demo day like no other – and more.
At the heart of the Fellowship model lies community: the social network that will sustain Fellows throughout and beyond the programme, and the connections to pioneers across the financial system who believe that finance can and should work in service of everyone in society.
Our Faculty of speakers and coaches are drawn from the worlds of ethical finance, regulation, civil society, social innovation and responsible technology, and includes: the Lab team (as well as Fellowship alumni, Senior Fellows and trustees); social investors such as Big Society Capital, the Fair by Design Fund, and Social Investment Business; and the FCA Innovate team.
Lab Fellowship has been judged by independent evaluators to be “an outstanding success” with impacts that “are likely to be ongoing, and considerable”. As a direct result of the programme, Fellows have secured major clients, received regulatory support, and featured in the press. Collectively, they have raised over £4m during or within six months of completing the programme.
Sam Lathey, Bippit:
“Lab Fellowship is the most progressive programme in the industry. Nowhere else could we find the same level of support and encouragement for cutting our own path through to a solution that challenges the status quo.”
Fellowship alumni are award-winning pioneers in their field, with many going on to make a significant real-world impact both by scaling their businesses and demonstrating that purpose-led financial innovation is possible. Together, we are helping to change the narratives about finance.
Our unique approach to incubation – one that puts purpose, systemic change, and collaboration first – has also influenced the innovation ecosystem. In 2017, for instance, the Financial Health Fellowship supported innovators and people and organisations with experience of living with poor financial health to collaborate on the design of new services and support for the first time. We demonstrated the shared value that co-design could generate for both Fellows and people with lived experience, while improving the quality and impact of innovation. We have been delighted to see this approach built on in recent years, such as the Fair by Design Fund and Open Banking 4 Good. To increase the impact of our learning, we regularly share our incubation insights with peer organisations.
Interested in becoming a Fellow?
Register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know when new Fellowship opportunities arise. Please note that:
- The theme of Lab Fellowship will change, and the structure may alter from previous years.
- The programme is designed for early-stage innovators who are committed to putting social or environmental purpose at the heart of their work. They can be entrepreneurs, start-ups, grassroots organisers, or even employees of existing financial organisations who want to repurpose a product or service.
- There is a rigorous selection process, which involves an application and interview, to ensure that we work with people whose ideas have the greatest potential to help transform the financial system for the better.
- Fellows are asked to contribute to the cost of the programme according to their ability to pay.
Diana Finch, Bristol Pound:
“If you want to make the world a better place by intervening in the economic and financial system, you should definitely go on the Lab Fellowship!”
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