Innovate UK awards £50,000 each to 15 female entrepreneurs

Female entrepreneurs are brought to the forefront with a tailored business support package

Innovate UK is continuing its mission to challenge disproportionately low numbers of women entrepreneurs in the UK, with the announcement of the 15 winners of its infocus Women in Innovation competition.

Each has been awarded £50,000, a tailored business support package and the chance to be paired with a business mentor.

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Innovate UK is a government-backed agency that aims to drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. The competition was launched in May 2016 and set out to address the problem that very few funding applications to Innovate UK come from women. Boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £180bn to the UK economy.

As well as providing much-needed funding, Innovate UK’s award will help break down a major barrier to female entrepreneurship – having limited access to relevant role models and identification with entrepreneurs as ‘women like me’.

Following an exceptional number of applicants, the 15 winners (who were selected from 34 finalists), were announced at London’s Royal Society of Arts on 15 November 2016.

Dr Ruth McKernan CBE and chief executive of Innovate UK said: “It is very clear that harnessing the talent of women entrepreneurs could significantly enhance UK economic growth. I am delighted that we are taking action; supporting and funding female entrepreneurs to help them succeed and inspire other women to come forward, apply for funding and turn their ideas into successful business.”

The winners’ creations certainly ticked the ‘innovative’ box. “From air quality monitors, to fully autonomous drone software, affordable solar power technology and a digital education portal which engages school children with the molecular world, the calibre of winners is an eye-opening view into the talent and vision of the UK’s female entrepreneurs,” said Dr McKernan.

Asked how we can inspire more female entrepreneurs to come forward and apply for funding, winner Natwilai Utoomprukporn of Gettrik Ltd said, “My advice to any women with an idea is to dream big! You have the opportunity to turn this innovation into a business, you just need the support, but without actually starting you don’t know what your full potential is.”

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