Natural Innovation was started in 2003 to support the development of clean technologies, and has had substantial successes in the fields of materials from waste; urban agriculture and solar photovoltaics.
At the end of 2009 we realised that many great ideas that could seriously impact emissions, and poverty were being lost because of financing challenges. We felt there were other ways to raise support for an idea that complement the traditional venture capital pathway, especially when the inventors are motivated by giving something to the world rather than only by making money.
Often people come to us when they've had the idea and spent a fair amount of time, and often money, on trying to develop their in various ways. At this point they find that they are caught in gap. Supporting them is too risky for philanthropists, but offers too little profit for Venture Capital. In addition the Social Enterprise usually needs too much money to source from family and friends, and too little to access investment funds, and without the resources to travel or engage a fund-raiser.
We incubate high impact innovations and shepherd them through the process of creating a Social Enterprise and getting to market. We do this by both direct mentoring and help, and through a network of partners and collaborators including engineers, industrial designers; user testers and manufacturing support; enterprise development; philanthropists investors & foundations, lenders such as micro-credit institutions, development and aid organisations. We help innovators connect with the resources they need to ensure that their innovation is completed and then reaches the people who need it. We'll help take the risk out of the innovation - to put a prototype together for example, or to test the market, so that cheaper sources of finance, or more risk-averse strategic partners (like aid organisations) can help with distribution.
We are looking into creating a small fund, to help finance early stage innovations - however that decision hasn't been made yet.