Ascension Fund III

Welcome to Ascension Fund III, dedicated to supporting talented founders leveraging technology to build more resilient societies by tackling the cost of living crisis. With our £50m fund, we will back the next generation of impact dragons (fund returners) capable of delivering attractive venture-style returns while reducing social inequalities.

Ascension Fund III overview

Actively deploying, open for second close

Stage Pre-Seed to Seed+

Ticket Size £250k - £1m

Round Size £500k - £2m

Business Characteristics Scalable tech businesses in the areas of New Work, Financial Inclusion, and Access to Better Health.

Leads? Likes to lead rounds

More about the Ascension Fund III Fund

Ascension Fund III is led by Jean de Fougerolles, an exited entrepreneur dedicated to finding the UK’s best seed startups since 2015, and Emma Steele, an ex. corporate banking and impact consultant. For the past five years, this duo have worked together and built an extensive track record backing leading Tech4Good businesses, such as Wagestream, Switchee and Credit Kudos (exit to Apple).

One of Ascension’s key superpowers is the 300+ founders and hundreds of angel co-investors which form a highly-supportive community that shares, accesses and assesses leading early-stage deal flow.

Our mission: Driving impact through technology

At Ascension Fund III, we believe in the power of technology to drive positive change. By identifying commercially astute mission-driven founders, we strive to create a lasting impact on society while supporting ventures at the forefront of key tech trends. Our target portfolio businesses will be building innovations tackling social inequalities by either:

  1. increasing earning potential/social mobility
  2. reducing essential household costs
  3. improving health outcomes

All of these solutions will need to target a mass market (i.e. relevant, accessible, affordable to lower-income households, which we define as the bottom 40% of the population by income)

Some of the major underlying tech trends that underpin these themes are significant markets at the forefront of innovation:

Fintech revolution

The fintech industry brings innovative solutions to traditional financial systems. We seek founders leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, and open banking to increase financial access, improve financial literacy, and reduce inequalities in the financial sector.

Future of work transformation

As technology reshapes the nature of work, we support founders who are building platforms and tools to empower individuals in the future of work. Our fund seeks ventures that tap into trends such as the creator economy, low-code applications, and the democratisation of tech literacy to promote employment opportunities and bridge the skills gap.

Digital health innovation

Advancements in digital health have the potential to revolutionise healthcare accessibility and affordability. We back founders leveraging technologies like telemedicine, AI-driven diagnostics, and health data analytics to reduce health inequalities and improve overall well-being.

Mobility solutions for all

We invest in ventures addressing mobility challenges and promoting inclusivity. This includes startups working on sustainable transportation, mobility-as-a-service platforms, and leveraging computer vision algorithms to create more efficient and affordable transportation systems.

Insurtech for social impact

Insurtech presents opportunities to transform insurance markets and address social inequalities. We seek founders using technologies like IoT, data analytics, and AI to develop inclusive insurance solutions that protect vulnerable populations and mitigate risks associated with social inequalities.

Food security and sustainability

Innovative solutions are needed to ensure food security and promote sustainable practices. We support founders utilising technology to improve agricultural efficiency and increase access to nutritious food, driving positive social impact.

What have we done so far?

We’ve just deployed a fund called Fair By Design with a thesis to tackle the poverty premium in the UK. Click here to meet the portfolio we’ve proudly built and the amazing founders we’ve backed.

Ascension Fund III will double down on this work by putting tech back into the hands of lower-income consumers, by looking more widely at social inequalities and how tech can help bolster more resilient societies.

Why was Fair by Design special?

We worked with our research, policy, and commercial partners to increase the impact and commercial reach of our portfolio.

  • Nationwide Incubator – a programme designed to offer individuals or early-stage companies access to Nationwide experts, workshops and customers.
  • Wayra Accelerator in Oldham, one of the UK’s poorest councils, offering early-stage companies access to Wayra’s extensive mentoring and investor network, and the chance to collaborate with Telefónica and its partner organisations. This resulted in follow on investments into Incuto and We Are Digital.
  • The Aviva Foundation partnership enables us to deploy grant funding dedicated to supporting seed-stage businesses that Ascension has invested in or plans to invest in. This collaboration aligns with Aviva’s objectives, focusing on initiatives that promote effective money management, encourage saving for a more prosperous future, and facilitate upskilling to enhance employability.
  • Roadshows (which took place in Oldham and Birmingham) where we invited different stakeholders (including social housing providers and local government), offering our portfolio a platform to deliver case studies on how they are working with other stakeholders to reduce the poverty premium, which helped accelerate commercial partnerships across the UK.
  • The University of Bristol’s extensive research identifying and measuring poverty premiums, along with subsequent studies highlighting key correlating factors, played a crucial role in establishing our investment thesis and reporting framework. As we progressed through the fund’s lifecycle, this research continued to guide our investment focus areas by identifying emerging market failures and additional opportunity areas for the fund.
  • Barrow Cadbury Trust as a Campaign partner that focuses on influencing policy-makers, regulators, and companies to ensure fairer markets for low-income consumers.

Ascension Fund III is poised to enhance its strategy of tackling the cost of living crisis, through a partnership-driven approach, emphasising the cultivation of relationships to establish effective distribution channels for the portfolio. This involves actively engaging with key stakeholders such as major social housing providers, forward-thinking councils, and corporations with substantial innovation budgets aiming to enhance employee propositions.

Lived experience

Just as we pioneered with our Fair By Design fund, Ascension Fund III will integrate the voice of lived experience in our investment decisions through our partnership with Bulbshare.

Bulbshare is a tech-enabled platform that helps organisations to build online customer communities and provide valuable insights. Its mission is to empower individuals from all walks of life to share their opinions and experiences with the world, and to use their collective knowledge to effect positive change.

Ascension’s Lived Experience Panel (curated and maintained by Bulbshare) will be truly diverse, consisting of several hundred people spanning various financial statuses, ages, educational backgrounds, employment types, disabilities, housing tenures, marital statuses and more.

Through the Bulbshare platform, Ascension can quickly create user testing campaigns and gather feedback on how the proposed investee businesses are meeting the needs of the consumers that Ascension Fund III aims to serve.

Join us on the journey

If you are a talented founder working at the intersection of these tech trends and our focus areas and raising a pre-seed or seed round, we invite you to connect with us.

Ascension Fund III not only provides financial support but also offers strategic guidance and access to our extensive network of industry experts. Together, we can leverage the power of technology to build resilient societies, reduce social inequalities, and unlock the potential for attractive venture-style returns.

Contact us

For founders

To learn more about Ascension Fund III or discuss potential investment opportunities, please submit your deck here.

For investors

Ascension Fund III is still open for investment, until we reach our target second close, towards the end of 2024. Please click here to request more information.