Launch a social startup in a year

Applications for our 2021/22 Social Innovation Fellowship are open


Year Here is a course in social innovation that is grounded in the daily experience of those at the frontline of inequality and focused on launching social businesses with potential for huge impact.


We think that starting a social business could be your best shot at impact. Our Fellows pick up the tools of business to fight injustice. While other startups are flogging dating apps or designing solutions to some other middle class inconvenience, we focus on problems that really matter.

To tackle the housing crisis, the growing needs of our ageing population or the surge of violent crime on our streets, we must start by listening and learning at the frontline of inequality. So your journey as a Year Here Fellow starts in a homeless hostel, care home or pupil referral unit.



Over 10 months, you’ll learn how to build entrepreneurial solutions to society’s toughest problems – from educational inequality to homelessness. If selected to become a Fellow, you will:

  • Get frontline insights. You’ll spend the first 5 months working with the people hit hardest by austerity and gaining deep user insight. To deepen your systemic understanding, you’ll also work on briefs set by clients like Crisis, the NHS and the Greater London Authority.
  • Meet your co-founders. Our Fellows have an average of 7 years’ career experience in fields ranging from biochemistry to law, and from journalism to engineering. They will become your support network, your collaborators and, ultimately, your co-founders.
  • Build scalable ventures. You’ll test and build your own social business, with the potential to progress to our Incubator and launch it into the world. Venture teams are guided by expert partners like the Boston Consulting Group, ForwardPMX and BNY Mellon.
  • Learn from expert faculty. You’ll get a personal mentor and receive tonnes of training from a faculty of more than 80 social innovation leaders – from award-winning social designer Lauren Currie OBE to Nishant Lalwani, Director of Investments at The Omidyar Network.



Fellows join us with an average of 7 years’ career experience, bringing with them a broad range of specialist skills and experience, ranging from biochemistry to psychology, journalism to engineering. What unites them is their brilliant personal qualities – resourcefulness, humility and resilience – and their passion for social action.


Finish the programme with a venture and you’ll get seed funding, business support, desk-space and client introductions to launch your business. Our alumni have launched 42 social ventures including:

  • Birdsongthe feminist fashion brand selling wardrobe stapes made by women paid a fair wage. Featured in Vogue, Dazed and Vice.
  • Appt, a HealthTech business that uses behavioural economics to help patients manage their long-term conditions – with multi-year investment from Innovate UK.
  • Chatterbox, an online language tuition platform powered by refugee talent, featured in The Economist, TechCrunch and The Times.
  • Cracked It, the tech repair service staffed by ex-gang members. Social Enterprise of the Year 2018 and 2019.

Those that don’t start a venture join other fast-growing social startups like The Difference, BeyondMe, Switchback and Matr.


Unlike a Master’s degree or MBA, we have no tuition fee. This is a reimagination of higher education. Rather than spending a year in a lecture hall and paying £10,000 for the privilege, we challenge you to learn by doing – working on real social impact projects. Our partners pay us to be involved and that covers your tuition costs.

To widen access to the programme we have a small number of means-tested bursaries available, and offer additional support through TfL discounts and recommendations for flexible paid work and affordable accommodation.


We’re looking for people with a solid professional skillset and an entrepreneurial track record. This doesn’t mean you have to have started your own business before but you will need to demonstrate that you have a bias towards action. Drive, passion for social justice and a strong learning orientation are also essential. Typically, 1 in 10 applicants secure a place on the programme.