London-based company builder Zinc has raised £3m in Seed investment led by VC firms Atomico and LocalGlobe.

Zinc runs a nine month programme that takes on 50 entrepreneurs and helps them build entirely new companies. The purpose is to build a company which can solve a high-profile social problem that affects more than 100m people in the developed world.

During its first programme, which took place in London from October and finished up as this fresh funding came about, Zinc created 17 new businesses. The new businesses have been formed to tackle issues within perinatal mental health, loneliness amongst the elderly, young women discovering sexual pleasure, stress-related physical conditions like IBS, women walking safely in cities, new talking therapies and more. 

The London School of Economics and a range of Angel investors such as Martin Leuw and Michael Norton, also contributed to the round. The LSE will work alongside universities such as Oxford, Manchester, Sussex and Sheffield to support the Zinc programme with research insight.

The new £3m funding will enable Zinc to replicate the programme. The second ‘mission’ will focus on the 150m people living in places which have been hit hard by automation and globalisation over the last 20 or 30 years, as their traditional industries (e.g. coal, manufacturing, textiles, shipbuilding, ports and tourism) declined. 

Founder and chief executive Paul Kirby said: “There is an urgent need for more and better solutions to help people and places adapt to economic change. Solutions are needed to help those who are still suffering from the legacy of shifts that started in the 1980s and 1990s,  as well as those affected by the coming waves of change that new technologies and global competition could bring.”

Zinc’s next mission aims to create new solutions to help people adapt to changes caused by automation, so that they can create and benefit from the new opportunities.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, added: “I am delighted to see that the missions are inspiring great talent to come together to build social businesses with global ambition. The second mission is close to my heart and I will do everything I can to help it succeed.” 

More than 80% of the companies that emerged from Zinc’s first six month mission have a female founder and more then three quarters of the companies’ founders were born outside the UK, as part of its aim to promote diversity.

Suzanne Ashman Blair, partner at LocalGlobe, said: “Zinc has got off to a great start with some really exciting companies emerging from its first mission.  To have an impact on society’s deepest challenges, we need to bring together entrepreneurial talent and capital.

“Zinc has demonstrated that its approach to addressing social problems through technology is a powerful combination,” she added.

Zinc’s programmes are led by experts in the fields of technology, social sciences, design, business. The average age of the 17 founders from the previous mission is 34 years old.