Technology accelerator programmes tend to be geared towards supporting the ideas and companies of young entrepreneurs but Google has announced that it plans to support a neglected group of innovators in the UK: the over 50s.
Through its Campus London accelerator near Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout, the internet giant has pledged to help first time startup entrepreneurs in this age bracket with growing their business.
One morning a week over a six-week period, ‘Founders over 50’ will provide a platform for "inspiration, training and skill-sharing, to bring the support needed to grow a new business".
Campus said the mornings will include sessions led by successful entrepreneurs and investors, and cover topics such as business planning, communications and design. At the end of the course, the group will showcase their startups to the community for feedback. The programme starts on 17 June.
Techworld asked Google’s head of Campus to explain the logic behind the idea.
Q&A: Sarah Drinkwater, head of Campus
What do you expect to happen to the over 50s after they've showcased their business?
The main reason we began the program is that we kept hearing from founders within this age bracket that they lacked a support network. So we really hope this program provides both that and more visibility for them within the wider community. Beyond that, it's up to what each individual founder and their needs/wants - we certainly hope we'll see them again at Campus.
How many over 50s do you think will partake in the Founders over 50 programme?
How did you pick the founders and how many people applied?
Given this is a pilot and we did little marketing, we were thrilled to get 90 applications - it proves there's a real appetite out there. We selected seven scalable companies at a similar stage, all with amazing founders with plenty to bring to the group.
Will they receive free access to Google technologies?
While we host regular mentoring every Friday with Googlers on a particular topic - this Friday is customer acquisition, and we provided 1,100 hours in 2014- and regular free workshops, talks and learning sessions around Google tools, we believe startups should use whatever tools make most sense for them. For example, our Device Lab contains both iOS and Android.
Can you name any successful technology companies that have been founded by people over the age of 50?
Arianna Huffington launched the Huffington Post at 54!
Who will deliver the training to them?
This is a group with a wealth of experience, across everything from journalism to geospatial mapping, and one of our goals, given the group's heritage, is that the group will collaborate and skill share. Beyond that, we're exporting some Google trainings, such as Creative Skills for Innovation (on moonshot thinking) and bringing in speakers like Hactar's Jonty Sharples for a UX masterclass and Campus startup Metaspeech for expert pitching tips.
One in five over-50s is self employed and the number of so-called “silver entrepreneurs” is estimated to reach 2 million by 2020, according to the ONS.