The Rain Gods to Work with Cambridge Judge Launchpad On “World-First” Programme in GovTech Entrepreneurship

The Rain Gods, a London-based company, and The Cambridge Judge Launchpad at Cambridge University have responded positively to the announcement by the UK Government that it will form a dedicated GovTech Catalyst team and provide £20 million to help tech firms deliver innovative fixes to public sector challenges (London, 15 November) by announcing a new GovTech entrepreneurship programme to run from 2018.

GovTech, short for Government Technology, is an exciting new area of entrepreneurial activity that seeks to bring entrepreneurial solutions to the problems of government at local, regional and national levels, enabling better government decision making, improved public services and stronger links between citizens and their representatives. Government can be seen as the biggest industry in the world, and offers a wealth of opportunities to start-ups and investors.

From 2018, Launchpad will introduce a GovTech specialisation for students on entrepreneurship courses, believed to be the first such offer in the world. The Cambridge Judge Launchpad offers two routes to postgraduate entrepreneurship qualifications, the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship and a Master of Studies in Entrepreneurship.  The GovTech specialisation will be available to both routes, one of eleven pathways available.

Timothy Barnes, formerly the director of the centre for entrepreneurship at UCL, founded The Rain Gods which runs The Rain Cloud Victoria, the first start-up facility dedicated to supporting for-profit ventures aiming to bring the benefits of digital disruption to government decision making and public service delivery. Tim will be the pathway lead for the GovTech specialisation on the new programmes. Tim is excited about the prospects for GovTech,

“The GovTech space is a new sector for start-ups and investors. It’s fair to suggest GovTech is where FinTech was maybe five years ago so this is a great time to learn about and plan a new venture in this space and catch the wave as it develops over the short term.”

coleridge-chris-883x432Dr Chris Coleridge, Director of the Cambridge Judge Launchpad, explained,

“We have been planning the GovTech offer as part of our new programmes for several months and this announcement validates our belief that this is set to become a major area of start-up activity and one that future entrepreneurs should be examining and considering for their new ventures.”

The Director of the Cambridge Launchpad Programme will be hosting an information session for potential applicants in London on 30 November. More information can be found here.

The Start Up Revolution Building Better Government

“Is government good enough? We don’t think so. Today we are calling on entrepreneurs to join the revolution for better government.”

Timothy Barnes, founder of The Rain Gods Ltd, has issued a rallying cry to entrepreneurs who want to use their skills to build better government in the UK and around the world.

The company operates the Rain Cloud Victoria start-up incubator in Westminster, located just a few minutes walk from all of the main UK government departments as well as major local government institutions.

The Rain Cloud programme has been in what Barnes describes as a “beta stage” since quietly accepting its first members in September 2016. Six months on, and with 45 members already installed and a further 20 joining in the next eight weeks, he is now on the hunt for ambitious entrepreneurs looking to develop businesses that can provide new services to government or are built on the data that it produces. It’s an area he refers to as CivTech, short for Civic Technologies, a term intended to act as a catch all for start-ups looking to bring digital disruption to government.

Barnes cites companies like MegaNexus Ltd, a multi-million pound software services business based in London’s King Cross, to show that the UK can build successful, private CivTech companies that serve government needs. MegaNexus provides training solutions to prisons across the UK and employs 120 people in the UK and India. But such companies have not historically been able to access the support that start-ups in well-known areas such as FinTech and Artificial Intelligence have enjoyed. The Rain Cloud will address that need.

Dr Dan Brown, founder and Chairman of MegaNexus concurs.

“The Rain Cloud Victoria is a fantastic space for startups looking for support from entrepreneurs and potential partners that have made a success of working with government. I wish it had been around when we started. It might well have helped us reach success a lot earlier.”

In the US, CivTech companies have had an easier time finding support. Los Angeles-based NationBuilder helps those running political campaigns and is reported to have raised nearly $20m in venture capital funding, much of it from investment royalty. The company was launched in 2011 and thanks to the support that it received to scale fast, by 2016 was serving more than 9,000 organisations in 112 countries worldwide. It serviced more than 3,000 candidates on the ballot in US elections last November and is working with seven presidential candidates in the forth-coming French elections.

“NationBuilder has built a successful, global CivTech business in just a few years and received investment from some of the most respected names in venture capital. We are convinced this will become a major new sector for startups and investors over the next couple of years,” explains Toni-Cowan Brown, Vice President of European Business Development at NationBuilder.

Barnes is convinced that through the Rain Cloud Victoria incubator, the CivTech Forum networking events programme and a planned CivTech Academy training operation, that the UK can build many more successful companies like MegaNexus, based on UK technology, but help them to get to market faster and grow more quickly, just as Nation Builder has been able to do.

There is certainly a lot of good raw material to work from, explains Dr Alastair Moore, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCL’s Engineering Faculty.

“London is one of the top global centres for big data, machine learning and cyber security – possibly the leading centre worldwide. These are the critical technical domains for complex CivTech systems. Getting the latest research out of our world-class universities and into start ups will be the basis for a major new tech segment and we expect London to lead globally.”

John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise and co-founder of the London Co-Investment Fund, believes The Rain Cloud is well placed to make this dream a reality.

“Tim and his team have unmatched experience in delivering start-up support in London. Harnessing real entrepreneurs, technical experts and government specialists has made their model one to watch and is a first in the area of government-focused launch programmes,” he says.

It’s certainly working for the first companies that took a risk and signed up with the Rain Cloud during their trial phase.

“The Rain Cloud is a genuinely supportive environment where we have found excellent mentoring and some great partners. We are talking to other members about collocation and have agreed two pilot projects, one of which has already led to a sale,” reports Ed Dowding, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Represent.me, which has developed digital democracy tools for improving citizen engagement in political decision making. Represent recently secured angel funding and is now looking to secure a larger seed round.

What are The Rain Clouds?

We are building spaces for people that are truly focussed on getting a new project up and running or working those that are. There will be support built in to each community and each space will be focussed on an industry or a problem.

These are not places for anyone that thinks the updating their stack is the same thing as building a business.

If you are serious about starting something brilliant, talk to us.