This tech accelerator is looking for startups to solve the poverty premium

Emma Haslett
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The accelerator is aimed at solving the so-called poverty premium (Source: Getty)

A new new startup accelerator is on the hunt for tech companies which can come up with a way to solve one of the UK's most pressing problems: the so-called poverty premium.

The programme aims to support seven companies a year as they come up with ways to prevent low-income households from paying more for services including energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food.

Wayra Fair By Design is backed by the Fair Design Fund, which has £8m ready to invest in startups that are, among other things, helping to prevent people with a poor credit score from being charged more for their loans, or shelling out more because they use prepaid energy meters.

Read more: Know how to solve poverty? Then you could be £50,000 richer

It's hoping to raise £20m to invest in startups tackling the poverty premium both within the accelerator and across the rest of the UK.

Startups qualifying for the programme, part of Telefonica's Wayra UK accelerator, will be given £70,000 in cash and services, including support from investors, mentors and coaches, and the chance to work with Telefonica and its partners.

It will be hosted at Open Future_North, a new acceleration and co-working space for startups in Oldham and Manchester. The Fair By Design Fund is a partnership between Big Society Capital, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Finance Birmingham and Ascension Ventures.

According to a report last year by the University of Bristol, low-income families paid an average of £490 a year more for essential services than those on a higher income.

“It should not cost more to be poor," said Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK.

"An entrepreneur’s central task is to offer a compelling, sustainable solution to big problems, and we can think of fewer problems bigger or more worthy of a solution than this one. We are eager to work with start-ups to make real progress in the battle against inequality.”

Read more: Wanted: A market breakthrough to solve poverty in rich countries

Want to apply? Head to the Fair By Design website and use the form at the bottom to register your interest

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