Last week, I had the opportunity to present mySircles to a room of inspiring and awesome entrepreneurs at Infocus: Women In Innovation event, organised by Innovation UK. There were some great pitches from wearable tech for young children from TechSixtyFour, to Do It Kits bringing ‘how to make’ inquisitiveness into the classroom. It was truly inspiring to hear so many women wanting to make a difference through innovation in the UK.
Around 200 female entrepreneurs attended Innovate UK’s networking event on 8 February 2017. The event was designed to encourage women to turn ideas into successful businesses. The highlight was a Q&A session with Innovate UK ambassador Claire Williams, the Deputy Team Principal of Williams F1 who was quizzed not only on surviving, but thriving in a male-centric environment. Claire has been instrumental in the successful restructuring of the Williams Group over the last 3 years and the growth of Williams Advanced Engineering and is encouraging more women to consider careers in engineering and technology.
The infocus initiative is the first women-only UK competition which has been created to encourage diversity in innovation. It followed research that just 1 in 7 Innovate UK funding applications came from women. Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK talked about the wider economic impact of addressing the gender imbalance and its significance. Research suggests that if participation is increased to the same levels as men, women-led SMEs could potentially contribute an incremental £180 billion gross value added (GVA) to the UK by 2025.
Recent research revealed that only 14% of people working in STEM are female and proportion of working-age women engaged in early-stage entrepreneurialism is 50% less than that of their male counterparts. Programs like infocus can help provide a platform for female entrepreneurs and start to bridge the gender gap. More information can be found on www.gov.uk.