Backing women in innovation: Female entrepreneurs could deliver £180bn to the economy

Posted on 15 Mar 2019 by Maddy White

Nearly double the amount of working-age men participate in entrepreneurial activity compared to women, but if the number of female entrepreneurs was boosted then more than £180bn could be delivered to the UK economy.

Fanya Ismail, founder of Sol-gel Coatings won Innovate UK funding – image courtesy of Innovate UK.

A past survey from Deloitte found that just 5.7% of working-age women engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to more than 10% of working-age men.

In response to the research, Innovate UK launched ‘Women in Innovation’ in 2016.

Britain’s innovation agency also revealed that just one in seven applications for Innovate UK funding came from women.

Make sure not to miss the People & Skills Manufacturing Summit 2019!

Manufacturers on the right side of history will be talking about increasing British industry’s share of the UK talent pool – by boosting participation from women and minority groups in the manufacturing workforce.

People & Skills Manufacturing Summit forms part of Digital Manufacturing Week held in Liverpool on 14 November 2019. Register now!

Balance for Better: Backing female leaders

It was International Women’s Day last Friday (8 March) and this year’s theme was Balance for Better.

The theme particularly resonated with previous findings from McKinsey, Delivering through Diversity (2018), which reported that firms with a more equal gender balance were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability than those without.

In light of this and International Women’s Day, The Manufacturer collated five kickass stories about women in manufacturing, but we also recognised the pertinent issues women still face as business leaders.

Tackling society’s biggest challenges

Women in Innovation winner Sheana Yu, founder of Aergo, image courtesy of Innovate UK.

As part of Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ campaign, nine leading female entrepreneurs will receive £50,000 business funding and a package of support to help grow their business and boost Britain’s economy.

The winners are tacking on some of society’s biggest challenges, including implementing artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and advancing the future of mobility.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, who announced the nine entrepreneurs, said: “The winning women are developing pioneering innovations to tackle the grand challenges we face as a society, from a new paper coating to cut down single use plastic, to helping us train mechanics using simulators.”

From reducing cold and damp in Britain’s homes to revolutionising the factory floor, the female business leaders are working on a range of innovative and potentially ‘game-changing’ projects:

  • Agnes Czako, AirEx – smart-tech airbrick that improves a home’s energy efficiency by using AI to monitor and respond to the environment, weather and occupant behaviour
  • Alex Haslehurst, Vitrue Health – a tool to help clinicians assess patient health, particularly motor function, more efficiently
  • Cintia Kimura, KG Protech – a remote practical training system for car mechanics
  • Daniela Paredes Fuentes, Gravity Sketch – virtual reality software that allows designers to sketch in a 3D space
  • Debbie Wake, MyWay Digital Health – digital platform that provides diabetes patients with personalised advice using patient information and home-recorded data
  • Dolores Sanders, Total Control Pro Ltd – using big data-sharing to streamline small businesses’ manufacturing processes
  • Fanya Ismail, Sol-Gel Coatings and Advanced Materials – using a ‘sol-gel’ chemical process to create plastic-free coffee cup coating
  • Jessica Bruce, Run3D – using 3D gait analysis originally conceived for runners to help older adults and those recovering from surgery to walk pain-free
  • Sheana Yu, Aergo – wheelchair seating system which uses air cells to ensure the user remains comfortable and supported