Have you ever thought about starting your own business? It can be a scary prospect but the best way to overcome this is to find someone who has done it before and use them for inspiration. To get you started, here are 15 inspiring women who have done it for themselves!
6 facts about women entrepreneurship
- Women’s confidence often holds them back from applying for funding and thinking their business ideas are strong enough
- As a result the proportion of UK women in entrepreneurial activity is around half the level of men
- The gender gap persists even as we move beyond ‘gender norms’. The perception of innovators and entrepreneurs as “male” remains. Recent research reveals that only 14% of all people working in STEM are women and the proportion of working-age women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurialism is 50% less than their male counterparts.
- Boosting female entrepreneurship could deliver approximately £180bn to the UK economy
- Game-changing funding exists for women – but must be sought out. Limited access to relevant role models and identification with entrepreneurs as “women like me” is a barrier for female entrepreneurs. Women are less likely to seek external sources of finance than men, but it can be simple to apply for funding.
- The best way to start is just to get started! Get Winner Natwilai Utoomprukporn, 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.”
Innovate UK have announced the 15 winners of their Women In Innovation awards, its inaugural infocus Women in Innovation competition. Launched in May 2016, the nationwide competition aimed to address the issue that only 1 in 7 applications for Innovate UK business funding were from women. These entrepreneurs include an an obsessive chocolate lover, a woman who’s developed a new approach to treating cancer and a young mum working to keep our homes warm!
The mission for Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is to challenge the low numbers of women entrepreneurs in the UK. The 15 exceptional winners will each be awarded £50,000, a tailored business support package and be paired with a business mentor.
Among the 15 women entrepreneurs:
- Elena Dieckmann– A mum of one in London, Elena is a design engineering student. In an effort to solve the UK’s waste problem, she created a way to turn chicken feathers into insulation – with Aeropowder she’ll help us keep our homes cosy this winter!
- Shakardokht Jafari– Shakardokht grew up in Afghanistan before moving to the UK on an International Atomic Energy Scholarship. She’s developed TrueInvivo, strings of beads that measure radiation in the body during radiotherapy so that side-effects and damage can be lessened. Shakardokht now works out of a shepard’s hut in Wales!
- Anna Hill – Anna, an artist-come-space-industry-expert based in London, has designed a floating cycle highway that runs along the River Thames, generating clean energy called “Thames Deckway.”
- Carmen Hijosa – Carmen started her first leather goods company in the 1970s and had the idea to use pineapples to create a natural alternative to leather while studying in the Philippines. Piñatex™ is a natural, biodegradable and sustainable alternative to leather.
- Rebecca Sage – Dr. Rebecca Sage created a digital chemistry tool that can be used in schools to teach students about atoms and molecules.
- Fanzi Down – After growing up in China, Fanzi moved to the UK when she was 16. Having been a life-long chocolate lover, she’s now invented a new way to make chocolate.
- Pauline Dawes – Pauline left school at 15 but returned to Cambridge to do an MA and then went on to found SOMI Trailers. Her innovation uses the space gaps underneath trucks to transport more with every journey – it could save over 10,000 truck journeys a day in UK alone.
- Anne Roques – Anne has 17 years’ experience in orthopaedics and has developed a new way of using video to enable surgeons to perform better hip replacement surgery.
- Emma L Sceats – Emma and her team have developed a way of making ‘Human Organs-on-Chips’, which will help to move away from animal testing when developing drugs.
- Lorin Gresser– While retraining as a doctor in her 30s, Lorin developed her business Dem Dx, is a clinical support tool for healthcare professionals.
- Christine Boyle – Christine is the Managing Director of her family business, Lawell Roofing, based in Belfast. She’s designed a ground-breaking plastic-based thermal solar panel, much cheaper than current versions.
- Rachel Gawley – Rachel from Belfast has developed MediMerge, a platform to engage, manage and collect clinical data from patients through specially designed apps and games.
- Siobhan Gardiner – Siobhan is a full-time PhD student at Cranfield University, but during her studies she developed drone technology that helps users to recover, dock, recharge, load and deliver items.
- Kym Jarvis – Kym has created a ground-breaking hand-held radiation sensor — that can be used when decommissioning nuclear sites.
- Natwilai Utoomprurkporn – Natwilai started out in the oil and gas industry, and this background – as well as two masters degrees –helped her to create an innovative new way of inspecting huge pieces of machinery, like wind turbines, and buildings using drones.