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The AI for Social Impact 2021 programme helps purpose-driven ventures in the UK advance their AI solutions to create positive social change. For the third year running, Microsoft for Startups UK and Social Tech Trust will select a cohort of organisations with a commitment to a social mission to join this 4-month programme.

"The passion from entrepreneurs for solving some of the world's most critical and challenging societal issues is palpable. The combination of their ideas, what they'll learn from others and their development journey through this programme, is where I see the impact and the opportunity."- Clare Barclay, Microsoft UK CEO

This year, we’re looking for organisations that support the UK healthcare, manufacturing and resources industries to recover faster and better from COVID-19. Impact should include improving the lives of patients, communities, employees and customers, in these sectors, in the following categories:

Future-proofing healthcare

Revolutionising manufacturing & resources

Applications close on the 15th of January 2021. Check our FAQs for eligibility criteria and supporting information.

Apply now


The Social Impact programme is designed by Microsoft, Microsoft for Startups and Social Tech Trust to give purpose-driven ventures the holistic commercial, technical and social impact support they need to succeed.

The 4-month programme kicks off with community building activities and deep dives into each individual venture, so that we can understand how best to support you and set milestones for your venture together.

The Social Impact Curriculum covers three streams:

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Business development

Business fundamentals, commercial strategy and raising funds.

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AI and tech

AI fundamentals e.g. AI ethical principles, cognitive services essentials and machine learning deep dives.

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Social impact

Social transformation, genuine user engagement, managing impact.

The curriculum will also support you on a number of cross-cutting themes essential to any purpose-driven venture, such as: leadership, partnerships, team and operations.

The curriculum is delivered through a mix of online workshops, webinars, panel discussions, and more.

4 skills for social good BLOG


Mid-March 2021.


4 months in total. March 2021 - June 2021, graduation in June/July 2021. Exact start date to be confirmed.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • Give purpose-driven ventures the commercial, technical and social impact support they need to create the future they want to see/li>
  • Make an impact in the 6 below-mentioned use cases
  • Help participants build a repeatable and scalable business enabling a successful, impactful model in their target markets
  • You have or want to embed a purpose-driven approach to your business activities including measuring social impact
  • You are aligning to one of the 6 use cases for social impact in healthcare, manufacturing and resource industries. These are:

    Future-proofing healthcare

    • Prevention and early detection of cancer and other conditions
    • Revolutionising healthcare settings
    • Ensuring equitable access to healthcare

    Revolutionising manufacturing & resources

    • Creating more sustainable supply chains
    • Building the factory & workforce of the future
    • Transforming water & energy through renewables
  • You have a minimum of £750k of funds raised or £400k of annual revenues
  • You are a registered B2B/B2B2C company or charity, less than 7 years old
  • You are on any Cloud service provider with a minimum £5k monthly cloud consumption and wish to migrate or build part/all of your solution on Microsoft Azure
  • You have a clear view of how AI will accelerate your product and ready to build AI during the programme
  • You must have an in-house tech lead who is committed to participate for the full duration of the programme
  • Be part of a 4-month dynamic programme with a bespoke approach for your venture and an incredible peer community
  • Non-Equity programme, with up to $25K of Azure cloud services credits
  • Get advice from experts on AI, Technology, commercial development and social impact to take your AI for Social Impact solution / service to the next level
  • Workshops and 1:1 coaching from Microsoft for Startups and Social Tech Trust, and an incredible network of advisors to help you meet your key milestones
  • Access to Microsoft for Startups and Social Tech Trust online events to network with UK tech community
  • Support to explore post-accelerator funding and investment options, and join the Social Tech Trust portfolio and gain access to an incredible network of leading social tech ventures and advisors

The Application process will open on the 30th of November and close on the 15th January.

  • A pre-selection of applicants will be invited to have conversation with the UK MD of Microsoft for Startups and a senior executive at Social Tech Trust between 8th and 12th February
  • The shortlisted applicants will then be invited to pitch virtually to a selection panel between the 15th and 19th of February 2021
  • Final decision on the successful applicants will be made on or just after the 22nd of February 2021

The Microsoft AI for Social Impact Cohort is a 4-month programme which is delivered remotely. It aims to provide you with access to a variety of events, workshops and other supporting benefits and services designed to help you develop your business from a social impact, technical & business perspective.

All organisations will remain part of the Microsoft for Startups community for a following 8 months to continue the technical and sales enablement development.

The alumni will also join Social Tech Trust's portfolio where they'll receive ongoing support from the team and have access to a network of social tech alumni.

No - as part of the UK Cohort, you will not be onboarded into the Microsoft Global Social Entrepreneurship programme.

There is no monetary cost for you to join this programme. Neither Microsoft nor Social Tech Trust will take any equity in your business. You will retain all your IP rights.

Your company will be responsible for covering your travel and business/living expenses where applicable.

No, you do not have to have an already commercialised/revenue generating AI driven product, however must have the following:

  • You are on any Cloud service provider with a minimum £5k monthly cloud consumption and willing to migrate or build part of your solution on Microsoft Azure
  • You have a clear view of how AI will accelerate your product and ready to build AI during the program me
  • You must have an in-house tech lead who is committed to participate for the full duration of the programme

100% of those who were part of our previous AI for Good cohorts said they would recommend the programme.


"Inspirational people have given us so many more ideas. Discussions have reaffirmed what we are going to do. Social impact and tech trust involvement has helped focus our mission - it was an amazing experience, which I will remember for ever. Kudos to the team that ran the course and good luck to them and the next cohort!"

Darren, CEO

"I have been able to define our AI strategy further as part of the programme and have engaged with highly skilled technical people in ML/AI at Microsoft. Also, I am now in touch with other teams at Microsoft who are working within the immersive tech and healthcare space both in the UK and the US, so I am still engaging with Microsoft staff today to push our solution to the next level."

Isabel, Founder & CEO

"I found the workshops far superior to anything else that I have attended, every workshop I was able to take something away that added value. The quality of expertise we were exposed to was fantastic and I found the support of the cohort was also fantastic, we were all happy to help each other."

Amanda, Founder & CEO

Read more about the 2020 cohort