Zennström Philanthropies was founded in 2007 by Niklas and Catherine Zennström. Its mission is to support and engage with organisations that fight for human rights, work to stop climate change and encourage entrepreneurship in order to protect our natural environment and allow those who live in it to realize their full potential.

We believe that the issues we focus on require a collaborative approach. One in which NGOs, funders, governments and individuals work together to achieve action and change. In forming partnerships and making investments, Zennström Philanthropies will seek organisations with strong leadership and that have the ability to scale their work and sustain their impact over the long-term period.

While we are always interested in learning more about the issues, the work, or the impact in our areas of focus, we are unable to accept unsolicited grant applications. Please note, any unsolicited application will not be considered.

Who we are

  • Catherine Zennström
  • Niklas Zennström
  • Barbara Jackson

Barbara Jackson

Baltic Sea Programme Director

Barbara joined Zennström Philanthropies in 2013 to manage the Baltic Sea portfolio now called, ‘Race for the Baltic’. The programme is focussed on involving the private sector to help solve the environmental challenges that the Baltic Sea is facing.

Barbara brings 8 years of private sector experience, most recently from Goodyear Dunlop Nordic. As a result she has a deep understanding of the need for multi-sectoral partnerships in order to create long-term systemic change. Barbara holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Providence College U.S.A., including credits from Harvard University and University of Westminster in London.

Niklas Zennström

Co-founder and Director

Niklas Zennström is CEO and Founding Partner at Atomico. He is an experienced technology investor and entrepreneur, having previously co-founded and managed globally successful technology companies including Skype, Kazaa and Joltid.

In 2006, Niklas founded the venture capital firm, Atomico, to help entrepreneurs, primarily from Europe, to scale their businesses globally. Atomico has partnered with and supported a growing number of highly successful technology companies, including Supercell, Klarna, Rovio, ofo and many more. It raised its fourth fund in 2016, which was the largest independent venture capital fund ever raised in Europe. In addition to overseeing Atomico’s strategy, he works closely with a number of founders of portfolio companies and sits on the boards of Rovio, Mapillary, Pipedrive, Truecaller and Farmdrop. Niklas is most excited about founders that are solving major world problems using digital technology.

Prior to Atomico, Niklas co-founded Skype, which became the first truly global category winning online company to be founded outside the US. He has also co-founded and managed other globally successful technology businesses, including Kazaa and Joltid. Niklas helps support the European tech ecosystem as President of the European Tech Alliance (EUTA), a group of fast-growing tech companies that have all been built in Europe.

In 2007, he co-founded Zennström Philanthropies with his wife, Catherine. They invest strategically in two areas: human rights and the environment. Niklas focuses primarily on sustainability projects, supporting organisations that are tackling issues such as climate change and the state of the oceans. The foundation is also funding a professorship at Uppsala University to establish an academic environment focused on climate change leadership.

Niklas also founded the Race for the Baltic, a foundation for a well-managed and sustainable Baltic Sea, one of the most threatened major bodies of water in the world.

Niklas is also a keen yachtsman, and has won four World Championships with his yacht racing team, Rán.

Niklas holds dual degrees in Business and MSc Engineering Physics/Computer Science from Uppsala University in Sweden, and he spent his final year at the University of Michigan.

Catherine Zennström

Co-founder and Chair

As chair and co-founder of Zennström Philanthropies, Catherine Zennström supports the work of human rights organisations fighting for the respect of human rights and dignity, mainly in Europe and Central Asia. Catherine co-founded Zennström Philanthropies in 2007. The organisation focuses its grant-making on global climate change, green entrepreneurship and human rights, and it works in partnership with over twenty charities.

Catherine has been active in the field of human rights since high-school where she was inspired by the work of Amnesty International and other campaigning organisations. She later worked as a volunteer at Médecins Sans Frontières and Amnesty International in their offices in London. She was a trustee with Refuge, a British based organisation dedicated to fighting domestic violence. Alongside her leadership of the foundation, Catherine is vice chair of the Board of Directors at Human Rights Watch. She also chairs the Nominating committee and the Europe and Central Asia Advisory committee, covering both regional and issue-specific programs to help drive forward the organisation mission, to respect rights and secure justice for all.

Catherine also holds different roles as a member or trustee at the Global Philanthropy Forum, the International Human Rights Funders Group, Ariadne (the European Human Rights Funders Network), and at The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW Co-hort 12). She is an enthusiastic supporter of organisations working to inspire new philanthropists to engage more actively in funding human rights issues.

Before moving to London, Catherine spent over ten years in the European telecom industry as a business developer. She was educated at international schools in the US, France and the UK, and holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Humberside.

Contact us

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Zennström Philanthropies
50 New Bond Street
London W1S 1BJ
United Kingdom
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