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Innovate UK
Innovate UK

Putting inspiration at the heart of innovation

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Funding, Support

Inspiration is something almost impossible to quantify but sits at the heart of every innovative business. Whether it be that someone is inspired to make a difference, solve a problem or achieve something new and exciting.

Inspiration is often sparked when people from different backgrounds or with different points of view, meet and work together towards a common goal.

Innovation thrives when diversity is encouraged

In 2016, Innovate UK launched its diversity campaign infocus to inspire more people to consider a career in innovation. Our initial focus has been to drive more women to fulfil their ambitions in innovation.

Studies show that gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to deliver better financial returns. And diverse companies are 70% more likely to enter new markets around the world – giving them a chance to scale and find new partners.

But to ensure diversity in business, we must encourage others to break glass ceilings, reach beyond their own communities and step-across industry silos. Through our women in innovation campaign we have worked with business Ambassadors to share their expertise with our Award Holders and help each of our finalists to take the next steps in their careers.

Microbots at Vex Robotics World Championships in the USA
Microbots at Vex Robotics World Championships in the USA

Start innovating early

And we must begin these efforts early.  Innovate UK recently hosted a workshop with 14-18 year-old women and with the help of the female founders of CognitionX, Bright Little Labs and WAH Nails showed them how robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality can be applied across industries as varied as education, cosmetics and social media. We know these leaders of tomorrow left inspired and hope they go on to share their views with their peer group.

We’ve also been working with two young innovators, Beth Thomas and Emily Duffey who at 9 years old have formed WGC Microbots and have competed in the Vex Robotics World Championships in the US. They have a passion for robotics and representing the UK on a world-stage and their enthusiasm is encouraging other children to get involved.

Never stop innovating - even when you reach the top

I know the FT Women at the Top event where I am speaking next month has an impressive range of women doing great things to change the world for the better – from Laura Haynes, chair of the UN Women National Committee UK who an active supporter of the United Nations’ mission for gender equality and the empowerment of women to Kate Glazebrook, co-founder of Applied – a web platform that uses behavourial research to help organisations find the best person for the job regardless of their background.

My ask to each of these speakers – and to you – is to share your own motivations. Whether that be in work, with your peer group or your family – don’t wait for a formal platform or the ‘perfect opportunity’ to let people know what motivates you.  Never think of yourself as ‘too new’ or ‘too young’ or ‘too inexperienced’ to inspire others to achieve great things in innovation.

You can follow me on Twitter: @RuthMckernan

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