The Fund invested £300,000 in Neuropool, which aims to get more than 10,000 neurodivergent people into employment by 2030. This investment is a major step towards tackling the underrepresentation in the workplace of people from neurodivergent backgrounds.
Neuropool was established by Jack Dyrhauge, an Autistic/ADHD Entrepreneur. The tech-for-good organisation builds neurodivergent talent pools for leading brands like Universal Music Group, the Financial Times, and universities like the University of Bath and Bristol.
Dyrhauge believes there is a massive pool of untapped potential that UK businesses could access. He said: “There are over half a million adults with Autism in the UK who are unemployed, and if you extrapolate that to people with a much broader range of neurodivergent challenges, you realise both the scale of the problem but also the massive pool of untapped potential that UK businesses could be accessing.
“Only 4% of FTSE100 firms have neurodivergent hiring initiatives, and Neuropool aims to change that.”
The Growth Impact Fund completed the first close of fundraising of £8.2m in December with support from various organisations, including Bank of America, Big Society Capital, Great Manchester Authority, and charitable foundations. It aims to raise £25m.
Inequalities in social investing
Sarah Faber, Investment Director for the Fund at Big Issue Invest, said: “We have attracted some very committed institutions and individuals to support the Fund. Everyone agrees that something is needed to rectify inequalities in social investment, and by doing things differently, we hope that we can scale up some amazing entrepreneurs, making a difference to their communities who might not have been supported otherwise.
”We are very excited by what Neuropool has achieved so far, and we think with the Growth Impact Fund’s support, it can scale much more quickly.”
Mathu Jeyaloganathan, Head of Investment at UnLtd, said they are pleased to announce the Fund’s first investment soon after welcoming new investors on board. With their support, they will aim to put some money behind diverse-led social enterprises tackling inequality in the UK.
Mark Hodgkinson, Chief Executive of Scope, an investor in the Fund, said that they are delighted to be a part of the Growth Impact Fund and excited to see this first investment. “Talented disabled people have been locked out of employment for too long because of outdated attitudes and a lack of tailored support. This Fund will support innovative and disabled-led businesses, meaning that more disabled people will have the opportunity to get in, stay in, and progress in work.”
Mike Jim is one of Neuropool’s success stories. He signed up with Neuropool in 2020 while studying Robotics Engineering at the University of Bath and was mentored by Jack via weekly calls to gain employability skills. He was offered his first role at Small Robot Company in November and then went on to secure his internship at Universal Music Group in Summer 2022. He now works as a Mentor and Ambassador at Neuropool, attending Bath events to inspire other students about his journey.
The Growth Impact Fund’s investment in Neuropool is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace. With this investment, Neuropool can scale up much more quickly, and the Fund can support more innovative and disabled-led businesses in the future.