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Innovate UK

Presenting the UK’s most promising female entrepreneurs

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We believe that the most disruptive innovation can only occur when great and diverse minds meet and get access to proper support to realise their ideas. The participation of women in the innovation eco-system is crucial to the development of work that will truly change the world. Not only for these women themselves, but for everybody - boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £180 billion to the UK economy.

Over the past year, we have focused our support on women working in innovation.

We are working to ensure their ideas are heard and that they have the resources, business support and self-belief to turn their ideas into successful businesses. This followed the insight that just one in 7 applications for business funding to Innovate UK came from women.

This July, we've partnered with Getty Images to present a two-week photography exhibition to tell the stories of our Women in Innovation Award Holders. The purpose of the exhibition is to challenge the perception of what an innovator is and looks like, to create new female role models and to celebrate women entrepreneurs. Hear about the award holders and their projects below.

Infocus "women in innovation" award

Emerging and Enabling

Gettrik Ltd - Drone mapping software for vertical structure inspection

Pae Natwilai Utoomprurkporn

Winner Pae Natwilai Utoomprurkporn, Founder of Gettrik
Winner Pae Natwilai Utoomprurkporn, Founder of Gettrik

Pae grew up and studied in Bangkok before receiving a scholarship to study global innovation design at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. This is where her fascination with drones began, and the seed was planted for her start-up, Gettrik.

The idea

Pae wants to develop a fully autonomous drone system for tall building inspection, replacing humans operating at height or in dangerous situations. This will include 3D mapping of wind turbines and buildings.

Herotech8 - Accessible, reliable and enabling tech in agritech & human logistics

Siobhan Gardiner

Finalist Siobhan Gardiner, CEO of HEROTECH8
Finalist Siobhan Gardiner, CEO of HEROTECH8

3rd year full-time PhD student, Siobhan, created a registered start-up (NOT based on her research), HeroTech8, and has a strong demonstrated passion for STEM promotion and outreach.

The idea

Siobhan will develop and demonstrate an automated robotic servicing platform, providing drone users with the ability to deploy, recover / dock, recharge, load and deliver payloads. Key market identified is precision agriculture.

The system removes the human from the management and operation of the drone service.

Interactive Scientific - Community-driven science, education & research tool

Dr Rebecca Sage

Rebecca is the MD of Interactive Scientific Ltd, where she has grown the company from 0 to 7 people and raised £500k in seed funding. Sage was also shortlisted for Women in Science & Engineering Tech Startup Awards & won Set Squared ‘People’s Choice’ award for best pitch in 2016.

The idea

Rebecca will develop Nano Simbox, a digital education portal to the molecular world – exploring scientific content in a more appealing way than traditional scientific education tools. The portal is to launch to the education market in 2017, followed by a corporate tool in 2019. User generated content and solution sharing is at the heart of the idea, crowdsourcing scientific solutions.

Sense Systems Ltd – Air quality monitoring for schools

Donna Lyndsay

Finalist Donna Lyndsay, Commercial Director at EarthSense
Finalist Donna Lyndsay, Commercial Director at EarthSense

Donna is a working mum, school governor, business strategist and geospatial data specialist. As the Commercial Director of EarthSense, Donna has applied her 22 years’ experience in the geographic information industry to commercialise the University of Leicester’s most promising air quality monitoring research.

The idea

EarthSense is a new University spin-out in which Bluesky, an aerial mapping company, is working with University of Leicester to commercialise very promising research in air quality monitoring. This project will target air equal measurement at 25 school sites to help inform stakeholders.

Maiden-Voyage Ltd - Female business traveller gamification engine

Carolyn Pearson

Finalist Carolyn Pearson, Founder of Maiden Voyage
Finalist Carolyn Pearson, Founder of Maiden Voyage

Carolyn has led tech teams in a long list of companies including Sony Music, KLM, ITV and BBC and most recently was head of eCommerce for EasyJet. Both Carolyn & have received a number of awards.

The idea

Develop a gamification engine for their website and upcoming app which will help the lone female traveller to experience more fruitful intercultural connections in a way which makes them feel safe. Travellers earn incentives for actions and sponsored purchases.

Score Academy - Financial management tool for millennials

Gabriela Isas

Finalist Gabriela Isas, Director of Score Academy

Gabriela has 25 years of experience in market research, business & brand strategy and is an entrepreneur as Head of Digital in Aegis Media.

  • Follow Gabriela on Twitter: @ghettin

The idea

Novel personal financial management tool for millennials which take advantage of tech, market dynamics and impending UK regulation on retail banks. The tool empowers young adults with their own primary financial data, presented in a dynamic and actionable way.

IndexMatch Ltd - Behavioural science in the cloud

Joanna Evershed

Finalist Joanna Evershed, Chief Executive of IndexMatch

Joanna has degrees in ‘Economics & Business’ & Psychology. She worked as financial modelling manager in the oil and gas sector where she developed a training tool which is the basis for the innovation. Evershed has a strong track record in innovating and enabling others to innovate.

The idea

Online research platform called Gorilla which will enable behavioural scientists to put their own studies online using an intuitive interface. The intention is to enable behavioural science specialists to create evidence-informed interventions to tackle societal challenges such as alcoholism, obesity, dementia, and strokes.

Health & Life Science

Absynth Biologics Ltd - A pathway to innovative products to combat antimicrobial resistance

Dr Fiona Marston

Finalist Dr Fiona Marston, Chief Executive of Absynth Biologics

Fiona is an experienced innovator with a track record of successful company establishment (Metris Therapeutics and Novarticulate), product development (novel antibiotic to human clinical trials) and venture capital experience (set up Healthcare Ventures Ltd) as well as being a role model for other women (various academic committee duties and school careers fairs). She has won awards for her innovation and leadership.

The idea

The long term vision is to expand Absynth Biologic's product portfolio and identify new anti-microbial agents. The company has potential relevant targets currently IP protected and requires further screening to understand their potential as AMR agents. Absynth originally identified twelve distinct targets from which two are being used for vaccine development. Other target proteins could be used for antibiotic development without compromising vaccine development.

AppAttic - Crowd-sourcing medical trials of mobile apps

Rachel Gawley

Finalist Dr Rachel Gawley, CEO of AppAttic

Rachel completed a PhD in software architecture, which created innovative methods to automate the process of developing 1000s of software products simultaneously.  Her post-doctorate research applied her skills to the domain of connected health resulting in the production of mobile apps for dementia tracking, stroke rehabilitation and a portal for care-workers to manage patient interactions/medical needs.  Rachel was awarded a research fellowship position as part of the Northern Ireland Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) as Head of Research for Jampot Technologies, which resulted in her architecting a Mobile App Builder that created over 500,000 native mobile apps.

The idea

Rachel’s solution being researched and developed by AppAttic is MediMerge, an end-to-end solution that provides a platform to engage, intervene and collect clinical data from patients using their own technologies.  It includes a series of custom designed apps and games to engage people with specific aspects of health, encourage positive behaviour change through gamification whilst sending data to a central cloud portal for clinical review

Dem Dx Ltd - Digital clinical support tool for healthcare professionals

Lorin Gresser

Finalist Lorin Desser, CEO of Dem Dx

Lorin has had business training at Harvard and employment in a hedge fund company. She is heavily involved in creating the concept of Mind Gym, a coaching course to get individuals or teams to change the way they think or approach problems. Gresser changed her career path and retrained as a medical doctor in her mid-30s. It was during her training at medical school that the concept of Dem Dx originated.

The idea

Dem Dx offers a digital clinical support tool for healthcare professionals, combining the power of diagnostic algorithms created by a global community of medical specialists, with AI and machine learning to reach a more accurate diagnosis in a more efficient way.

CN Bio Innovations Ltd - Manufacturing Human Organs-on-Chips towards non-animal alternatives in drug discovery and research

Emma L. Sceats

Emma has led the company’s transformation from Oxford university spin-out to a world leader in human Organs-on-Chips (OOC). Emma was responsible for licensing key OOC technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2012, and in the same year secured a $26M US government contract to develop a human Body-on-a-Chip.  Emma led in-licensing of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Hepatitis B portfolio in 2016 and has steered CN Bio’s negotiations in 25 successful deals with pharmaceutical firms.

The idea

The discovery and development of new medicines can be more effective and that this can be achieved by replacing animal tests with human Organs-on-Chips, miniature devices that replicate the structure and function of human organs in the laboratory.

Aurora Medical Ltd - Kinematic hip replacement assessment method

Anne Roques

Finalist Anne Roques, Senior Design Engineer for Aurora Medical

Anne is a R&D engineer with 17 years of experience in orthopaedics, at the forefront of innovation in the field. Owing to strong analytical skills, Anne was assigned lead engineer on projects at Finsbury Orthopaedics, a micro company.

The idea

A cost effective kinematic assessment method to be offered as a service in the clinical setting for hip replacement. The position of a hip implant is critical to post-operative performances. Anne’s innovative preclinical video analysis will provide surgeons with new data, enabling the implant system to be implanted in a much more efficient position with respect to life and performance.

Truelnvivo Ltd - Solution to improve cancer survival rate

Dr Shakardokht Jafari

Winner Dr Shakardokht Jafari, Founder of TrueInvivo

After challenging early years growing up in Afghanistan, Shakardokht worked as assistant lecturer in the Kabul Medical University and as a Radiology Department Supervisor in the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul. Shakardokht came to the UK in 2010 on an International Atomic Energy Agency scholarship to be trained as a clinical scientist (Medical Physicist). She is now the Founder and CTO of Trueinvivo Limited, has developed a radiation detection system for cancer care that aims to save lives, money and offer a better quality of life to patients.

The idea

During her PhD in medical physics Shakardokht discovered the radiation detection properties of simple silica-based glass beads. The plan is to use strings of beads to measure the dose and spread of radiation in the body during radiotherapy so that subsequent side-effect damage can be inhibited. Similar detection products can be used in other industries.

Cotton Moulton Diagnostics Ltd - Molecular diagnosis in primary care

Dr Jenna Bowen

Finalist Dr Jenna Bowen, Co-Founder of Cotton Mouton Diagnostics

Since completing her PhD at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011, Jenna has focused on making real the notion of precision medicine. She is developing smarter diagnostic technology to help the medical sector deliver bespoke, personalised treatments for every patient at Cotton Moulton Diagnostics.

The idea

To enable the provision of high-quality, evidence-based diagnosis at the first point of entry into the healthcare system through the development of a rapid, clinically useful, molecular diagnostic technology that can be deployed at point-of-need in primary care and provides data in in less than 15 minutes.

Points North Consultancy Ltd - Generating a new therapeutic pipeline

Dr Suzanne Dilly

Finalist Dr Suzanne Dilly, Director of Points North Consultancy

Suzanne has a track record of innovation throughout her career beginning with the spin-out company a2sp Limited from the University of Warwick, which exercised Suzanne’s multi-disciplinary post-doctoral research to produce the Magic Tag technology. As well as retaining CEO of Tangent and ValiSeek, Suzanne is CSO of Valirx plc, and has recently been appointed as a director of Points North Consultancy Limited.

The idea

This project will kick-start a new therapeutic pipeline within Points North.  This will either generate out-licensing arrangements with other biotech companies carrying out early stage research, or initiate single asset Joint Venture companies, whereby a larger biotech company may input funding into the new company, and Points North would contribute the IP from the new pipeline.

Infrastructure Systems

Viridian Consultants Ltd - An innovative alpha characterisation sensor

Professor Kym Jarvis

Winner Kym Jarvis, Director of Viridian Consultants

Kym is Managing Director of Viridian Consultants (micro SME), a successful research scientist, multiple award winner and first woman to lead a Research Council Analytical Facility (NERC).

The idea

A handheld tool for complete characterisation of materials in the nuclear decommissioning and homeland security environments to reduce risk and dose to the operator. The project is to test the concept of a tool, ViridiScreen, which will measure total alpha contamination on a surface and, in real time, remove a small amount of that surface for detailed analysis of a wide range of radionuclides and stable elements.

Senergy Innovations - Senergy solar thermal panels

Christine Boyle

Finalist Christine Boyle, CEO of Senergy Innovations

Christine is the Managing Director of family business Lawell Roofing, in which she successfully negotiated an economic downturn. She is also the Chair of Women in Business NI.

The idea

Design a polymer based thermal solar panel which is significantly cheaper than current versions. Project will support the Senergy Manufacturing and Demonstrator projects with a dissemination plan. This should facilitate the launching the new and innovative Senergy solar thermal panels into the global marketplace.

River Cycleway Consortium Ltd - Clean energy deckway

Anna Hill

Finalist Anna Hill, Founder of River Cycleway Consortium

Anna is an entrepreneur, innovator, artist and designer. She’s motivated by the constructive, creative use of space technology and how it can solve some of our biggest environmental problems. As the co-founder of the River Cycleway Consortium Ltd, Anna is responsible for the Thames Deckway, a floating cycle and pedestrian path.

The idea

A clean-energy floating bicycle corridor that uses a series of interconnecting pontoons that will rise and fall with the River's tidal range of 8 metres. The Deckway will produce energy from solar, wind and tidal power and is an emergency relief flood mitigation hybrid system.

Lucidity Innovation Ltd - Innovation programme pilot 

Lucy Gower

Lucy is a coach, trainer consultant, speaker, blogger, and author. She was innovation manager at NSPCC and has Pioneered a programme to provide the right support, tools and encouragement to enable everyone to be an innovator.

The idea

Lucidity provides coaching, training and consultancy to help individuals and organisations with the people part of innovation. This has previously been successful in the not-for-profit sector so she would like to now scale the programme to the private sector.

Smart Green Shipping Alliance - Sailing hybrid initiation project 

Diane Gilpin

Finalist Diane Gilpin, Founder of Smart Green Shipping Alliance

Diane is a Systems entrepreneur with 30 years of experience making innovation happen. She launched Cellnet in the UK and is now with Smart Green Shipping Alliance.

The idea

To build the world's largest sailing hybrid (wind/biofuel engine) 100% renewable powered merchant ship.

Fuel Cell Systems Ltd - Mini hydrogen dispenser for breakdown service vehicles

Beth Dawson

Very successful - 13 years in a FTSE100 company (from PA to MD). Helped set up Swindon Hydrogen Hub via Fuel Cell Systems.

The idea

To design and build a mini hydrogen dispenser to be fitted into a breakdown recovery van in anticipation of the role out of hydrogen vehicles - it will be the first of its kind. A successful demonstration would enable all UK breakdown services to adopt this technology into their breakdown service vehicle fleets as demand grows.

RainShare Ltd - Sharing and storing water management

Sarah Ward

Finalist Sarah Ward, Founder of RainShare

Sarah is a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, Senior Research Fellow at the  University of Exeter and established the social enterprise RainShare.

The idea

RainShare helps different groups re-engage with and manage the water they generate and use by sharing and storing harvested rainwater (roof runoff) between properties. Sarah aims to form a small expert team to fully exploit existing pilot service installation through performance evaluation and quantification of financial metrics.

Energy Local - Robust integrated electricity system 

Dr Mary Gillie

Finalist Dr Mary Giles, Director of Energy Local

Mary has 15 years of experience in the energy industry, including work at EA Technology, DNO’s, ETI and was Carbon Trust Director of Ashton Hayes Community Energy CIC.

The idea

Energy Local is an innovative business model that allows a community to obtain the true value of its local generation by ensuring that as much of the power as possible is used within the community. This saves up to 30% on consumers’ electricity bills & a give a better return to local renewables. EL is running its first end-to-end trial in North Wales matching the electricity from a 100kW hydro to 100 local residents.

Materials and Manufacturing

AEROPOWDER Limited - Innovative materials from poultry feather waste

Elena Dieckmann

Finalist Elena Dieckmann, Founder of AeroPowder

Elena has experience in industry, academia and life with strengths in innovation design. Dieckmann co-founded AEROPOWDER whilst completing her masters degree and bringing up a 2-year old.

The idea

AEROPOWDER’s aim is to capture and utilise waste feathers from the poultry industry on a global scale and enable to production of novel products that will be both high performance and have a reduced environmental impact.

SOMI Trailers Ltd - Utilising space between trailer wheels

Pauline Dawes

Winner Pauline Dawes, Owner of SOMI Trailers

After leaving school at 15, Pauline went on to study at the University of Cambridge and graduate with an MBA. Following her studies she began working in transport and engineering. Here, she quickly climbed to the top of this male-dominated sector. As Managing Director of SOMI Trailers, Pauline has drawn on her 10 years of professional experience to inform her innovation; leading the development of a trailer body that uses the space underneath trucks to transport greater loads with every journey.

The idea

Use space between wheels on large trailers to carry more pallets via a middle double-decker load and a patented method for moving the pallets on top without a forklift.

Ananas Anam UK Limited - A natural and sustainable alternative to leather

Dr Carmen Hijosa

Finalist Dr Carmen Hijosa, CEO of Ananas Anam

Carmen started her leather goods company in the 1970s and later had idea for Pinatex during her work for Design Centre Philippines. She then developed business through a PhD in Textiles and incubation at RCA. Carmen has built a team of 6 and has 5 versions of her material selling to over 160 customers. She also presents to RCA design and doctoral students.

The idea

Pinatex is an alternative to petroleum based textiles for many applications.  The project is to develop bio based sustainable formulations for dyes and coatings. The long-term vision is to produce a leading branded textile which is innovative, biodegradable and addresses an emerging market demand.

DPS Designs Ltd - Step change in chocolate manufacturing

Fanzi Down

Finalist Fanzi Down, Director at DPS Designs

Fanzi grew up in China and came to the UK at 16, without family, for her education.  She later joined Arcadia, where she reshaped their logistics to profitability, and then joined DFS where she managed innovative developments. She's now with DPS Designs.

The idea

To create a revolutionary chocolate moulding technique by industrialising the process of displacement moulding.  Use technology as a “gateway” to wider moulding exports, to take on dominance of Dutch and German moulding firms.

LOOWATT Ltd - A paradigm shift in sanitation

Virginia Gardiner

Finalist Virginia Gardiner, CEO of Loowatt

Virginia developed the idea for Loowatt in 2008 whilst doing her RCA Masters, and founded the company in 2010.

The idea

Loowatt provides off-grid human waste treatment.  The product is cost competitive, with no water or chemicals. Loowatt is an off-grid operation, with no heavy goods vehicles needed and the potential for energy generation with waste to energy Anaerobic Digestion.

Fanatic House - Flexible carbon fibre mountain biking body armour

Dorota Grabkowska

Finalist Dorota Grabkowska, Director at Frantic House

Dorota founded Fanatic House, a successful design service company, and has invested significant time and effort into product design and development.

The idea

The long term vision is to create a leading Mountain Biking body armour brand, focusing on lightweight protective equipment that provides high shock absorption, flexibility and non-restricting fit, beginning with the creation of back protectors.

Customem limited - Selective water treatment cartridges for removal of pollutants 

Gabi Santosa

Finalist Gabi Santosa, CSO at Customem

Gabi achieved a BSc in Biochemistry from Imperial in 2016, where she also created and ran a synthetic bio conference and society and co-founded Customem limited, to commercialise prize winning IP.

The idea

Use biomaterials to promote sustainability in environment, in particular nano-filtration of water to remove micro pollutants in wastewater.

Rebecca Street Limited - Applying precious metal leaf to flexible materials

Rebecca  Street

Finalist Rebecca Street

Rebecca is an established bridal designer, coupled with design technician for luxury design houses, including Alexander McQueen and Mulberry, with whom she's fitted clothes for celebrities like Kate Moss and Keira Knightly.

She is known for her sculpting skills, her technical knowledge of textiles and construction, and for pushing boundaries in the area of wearable technology.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @RebeccaStreet6

The idea

Attach any metal leaves to simple to very complex designs, and any stretchable, flexible fabric, allowing the fabric to be machine washed without the metal leaf disintegrating and detaching from the fabric. Potential other markets include Home wares, soft furnishings and bed linen, medical devices, flexible, and sustainable nano circuits.

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If you would like to attend the exhibition you can find out more here.

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