Ventures WorkerTech newsletter: January 2024 The latest update from Resolution Ventures 31 January 2024 by Emma Selinger Emma Selinger ‘Why is a think tank investing in startups?’ is a question I hear a lot. This month I’m bringing you some insights from the ‘thinking’ part of Resolution Foundation to try and answer this. One of our most recent research-focused newsletters does a great job of showing how research shapes our investment priorities, while also debunking some myths around automation and work. If you’re working on a WorkerTech idea or are interested in developing an idea from some of our research, please get in touch! Emma Ventures Manager Resolution Foundation Automation nation? Do you subscribe to Resolution Foundation’s Top of the Charts newsletter? If not, here’s a reminder to register for a weekly economics update from the team, and a snippet of what you’ve missed this month. Two weeks ago, our Chief Executive, Torsten Bell and Senior Economist, Hannah Slaughter considered the future of work and tried to demystify commonly held views about the impact of technology on work. There are varying perspectives on the future of work and tech, from utopian visions of universal basic income to dystopian fears of job-killing robots. Despite these concerns and sectoral changes in the labour market, overall UK employment has risen since 1993, with average weekly working hours remaining at around 32 for the past two decades. Just by looking at the growing participation of women in the workforce, we can see that working hours are not diminishing. In fact, average total hours worked by couples have increased, particularly among higher earners. There are also income-related trends, where higher earners would prefer fewer hours, contrasting with low earners seeking more hours to increase their income. This is a significant change from the past – when the lowest earners typically worked the longest hours – and this new “hours inequality” adversely affects low-to-middle income individuals. With a WorkerTech lens on this, we need to take a pragmatic approach to how technology can improve existing work challenges and contribute to a good work agenda rather than futuristic speculations. Let’s shift our focus from robots to addressing present issues such as insecurity and low-pay. If you’re working on an idea that tackles this, please get in touch. Latest insights from the Resolution Foundation Narrowing the youth gap – the government’s extension of the national living wage to 21 year olds, and increased youth rates for 16 – 20 year olds, will have a significant impact on young working people. However, action is still needed to reduce the incidence of low weekly pay through reforming childcare, improving working conditions and boosting in-work support for young disabled people. Pressure on pay, prices and properties – through analysing a new YouGov survey of 8000 adults in the UK, this report finds that the cost of living crisis is still hitting families hard, and even more so than two or more years ago. The most vulnerable are those with higher housing costs than a year ago, but with no increase in pay. Labour market outlook Q1 2024 – the rise of work inactivity due to ill health is a complex story with much regional variation across the UK. Low-employment areas including West Central Scotland have seen the fastest employment growth compared to before the pandemic. In contrast, some high-employment areas’ employment rates (like Surrey, Sussex and Cheshire) are well down on pre-pandemic levels. WorkerTech stories Our portfolio founder Danae Shell, CEO of legal tech platform Valla, wrote for Sifted about the challenges of raising venture capital in the current market. The article follows her journey in 2023, from product pivots, to pitching, and securing new investors. We’re excited to be supporting Valla in 2024 to ensure that low-cost legal support is available to low-paid workers. Previous newsletters have covered WorkerTech activity in the USA, and MIT’s Shaping the Future of Work Initiative is a new addition. Earlier this month MIT launched this research project which will tackle the role of worker voice and technology, AI and the future of work. Their launch event brought together panels of leading researchers and campaigners on these topics. Get involved Apply for direct investment from Resolution Ventures. We accept applications from WorkerTech ventures on a rolling basis. Or you can book a slot in our office hours for an initial conversation. Ufi VocTech Trust is open to applications for the VocTech Activate grant fund until 31 January 2024. Grants of between £30,000 to £60,000 are available for projects lasting three to 12 months which have the potential to transform how adults gain and maintain the skills they need for work. Are you looking for impact investors for your startup? Impact 12 launched its Impact Investor Finder earlier this month, a database of hundreds of impact investors spanning multiple stages and sectors. Sie Ventures is hosting Sie Raise Summit on 19th March to demystify the fundraising process for female founders. If you have at least one female founder on your team, you can apply to join the summit and access deep dives, workshops, and investor networking. Rare Founders are hosting their first demo day on 22nd April 2024. They’re looking for pre-seed to Series A startups to pitch live to hundreds of investors. Applications close on 29th February.