Venture capital firm Zinc has announced the first close of a new £28m fund.

Zinc was founded in 2017 by Ella Goldner, Paul Kirby and Saul Klein and has helped over 220 entrepreneurs who have built more than 60 ventures.

The London-based VC will use the money to invest in 500 entrepreneurs to build new startups focusing on solving the most pressing societal problems.

The Zinc Fund 2 will then invest in the top 100 startups created via the programme, which will start in October and will focus on B2B solutions that focus on areas such as the environment and improving later quality of life.

Zinc will choose up to 70 people to join a cohort where they will receive 12 months of support and capital.

Co-founder Paul Kirby said: “Our missions are a call to arms: ‘Who wants to quit their jobs and spend the next decade or more solving this problem?’

“Each mission unites people who care deeply about the same unsolved problem, cutting across the traditional silos (by industry, profession and private/public/charity) which get in the way of innovation.”

His co-founder Ella Goldner added: “Rather than waiting for good companies to appear, Zinc helps individuals (before they have a business idea or a team) to build from scratch a new commercially-ambitious company to solve the social challenge that they are most passionate about.”

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Diane Morgan, Zinc’s Director of Talent said: “In a time where less than 5% of VC funding in 2021 went to female founders, and less than 0.5% of venture capital (VC) funding going to Black-led startups, the danger is that the products being built won’t meet the needs or tackle the challenges society faces.

“That’s why we have built cohorts with more than half of our entrepreneurs being women, the cohort being ethnically diverse, and an average age of 38 years and embracing age diversity with a range from mid-20s to mid-50s.

“We’re attracting talent from around the world, with over 30 nationalities represented in our entrepreneurs, with many of them relocating to the UK to join Zinc and start their business here.”

On the programme, cohorts will have the chance to find a co-founder, receive expert support, build a product and have the opportunity to secure investment.

The fund has been cornerstoned by the British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme, which supports new and emerging VC fund managers who target the early stage equity gap.

Other investors include Big Society Capital, Molten Ventures, Isomer, Dunhill Medical Trust, Atomico, Anthemis Group, family offices, and some of Europe’s most successful tech entrepreneurs and early stage investors such as Taavet Hinrikus from Taaven+Sten, Illka Paannan, Basecamp, Sarah Wood. Stuart Roden and others.

Jonathan Sibillia, partner at Molten Ventures, said: “We believe that tomorrow’s problems need to be solved today, by great entrepreneurs, which is why we’re backing Europe’s best seed-stage investors. Zinc’s unique approach provides us access and exposure to the earliest stage mission-driven ventures that will become the leaders of tomorrow.”