Grants / Projects we are funding

Core funding: the Finance Innovation Lab

Grant details


Awarded on:01/12/2016


Area of interest

Systems change

Over the last two years, the Finance Innovation Lab created the Transforming Finance Network. Through meetings, joint events, shared campaigns and extensive informal collaboration over ideas and political intelligence, the Network can now come together quickly and effectively. A number of the policy options put forward by the Network have become widely debated and Friends Provident Foundation will now be supporting the Finance Innovation Lab through core funding.

What is the issue?

Our financial system has become disconnected from the real needs of people, the environment and the wider economy. Dysfunctions in the financial system lie at the root of many of today’s challenges, from fossil fuel addiction to structural inequality. 1.5 million adults remain unbanked in Britain today and 12 million people lack access to affordable credit.

It doesn’t have to be this way. People created the system and people can change it – but they need support. The rise of fintech and alternative finance offers opportunities to positively disrupt the system, but also risk replicating the existing failings of the financial system. Innovators building new financial models which put people and planet first face a huge challenge, working against the grain in a complex, highly regulated system with powerful incumbents. Similarly, business and civil society voices calling for change are often disconnected and face a formidable counter-lobby for the status quo. Those working to transform financial institutions from the inside face significant cultural barriers and social norms that prioritise short-term profit over long-term value.

Anna Laycock and Marloes Nicholls from the Finance Innovation Lab speak here about the work they are doing to transform the financial system from within.

What will the project try to achieve?

The Finance Innovation Lab incubates the people and ideas that can change the financial system for the better. It works with innovators creating new business models in finance, civil society leaders advocating for financial reform and intrapreneurs inside mainstream finance who want to repurpose their profession. Over the next three years the Lab will:

  1. Incubate disruptive innovators across the UK
    The Lab will incubate promising leaders to develop financial businesses that put social and environmental impact at their heart, and will use their experiences to influence the wider policy environment for financial innovation.
  2. Build a movement for socially useful finance
    The Lab will build a community of practice among socially useful financial innovators, with a shared vision for finance and a shared voice for addressing wider barriers to change.
  3. Seed a network of changemakers within mainstream finance
    The Lab will develop a network of ‘intrapreneurs’ across the financial system, nurturing and connecting emerging leaders with the potential to transform their organisations.
  4. Change the narrative on finance
    The Lab will work through the media to reframe the purpose and role of the financial system.

Who might be interested in this project?

  • Entrepreneurs building financial products or services that prioritise social and/or environmental impact
  • Fintech, alternative finance, community finance, sustainable finance, social investment and impact investment businesses and industry groups
  • Social enterprises and social economy infrastructure bodies
  • Civil society groups calling for reform in the financial system or for greater public engagement with economics
  • Academic researchers investigating alternative approaches to finance and economics
  • Parliamentarians, think tanks and policymakers aiming to build a more democratic, responsible and fair financial system
  • Finance professionals seeking to take a more socially or environmentally responsible approach to their work.
  • Academics and researchers interested in a fair, responsible and democratic financial system.

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