We need to change the face of innovation

Posted On: 
15th August 2018

The Head of Diversity & Inclusion Programmes at Innovate UK launches a second round of Women in Innovation awards, which seek to fund up to eight ideas from female founders, co-founders or senior decision makers, that address the four grand challenges posed by government’s Industrial Strategy, covering: AI and the data economy, clean growth, future of mobility, and ageing society.

Credit: 
Innovate UK

At Innovate UK, we firmly believe a good idea for innovation can come from anyone.

Diversity is proven to contribute to business success and with this in mind, we’re taking the next step in our diversity and inclusion campaign by launching the second round of our awards programme designed specifically for Women in Innovation.

This new competition will seek to fund up to eight ideas from female founders, co-founders or senior decision makers, that address the four grand challenges posed by government’s Industrial Strategy, covering: AI and the data economy, clean growth, future of mobility, and ageing society.

In addition to the awards programme we will be holding a series of ‘Women in Innovation: Building Success’ events to help unlock the potential of women nationwide. The events will highlight opportunities to get support for their innovation, provide expert advice and encourage discussion and networking. 

Women in Innovation was first launched in 2016 to address the disproportionately low number of women seeking support from Innovate UK. Our research also showed us that one third of women felt their gender had impacted negatively on their career in innovation, and we wanted to do something to face that.

Evidence shows that the proportion of UK women engaging in entrepreneurial activity is around half the level of men , but encouragingly, since launching the inaugural Women in Innovation campaign in 2016, Innovate UK has seen a 70% increase in the number of registrations from female lead applicants and helped a 31-strong cohort of women, who won our first Women in Innovation Awards, achieve business successes. 

Young innovators

We also know that diversity comes in many forms. So in December 2017, Innovate UK teamed up with The Prince’s Trust on a new Young Innovators’ campaign to help the next generation make an impact. We have provided extra knowledge and tools focused on innovation, to add to the support the Prince’s Trust already provide to young people starting their own business. 

The campaign is a partnership to unlock the innovations and entrepreneurial potential of young people with great ideas from diverse backgrounds. Working with 18-30 year olds who are not in full-time employment, education or training, or are in a form of under-employment, it’s ensuring those who have an idea for an innovation that could go on to be commercially successful, are presented with a new opportunity to develop it further.

After our launch events around the country, from Cardiff and Birmingham to Newcastle and London, 150 young people attended our Innovation Live seminars, where they received innovative business advice, and guidance on applying for support through the programme.

As a result, 24 award winners were selected from across the country to receive tailored coaching and mentoring from an innovation champion, £5,000 funding to support business development and an allowance to cover living costs.

The winners have already been exposed to great opportunities to raise their profiles, including media interviews with national outlets and being used in a new GREAT campaign with the strapline “For passionate emerging talent, choose the UK”.

Achieve overall greater diversity in UK innovation

As part of UK Research and Innovation, it is Innovate UK’s job to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to realise the potential of new ideas. These diversity and inclusion campaigns are a key part in fulfilling that mission. By helping us build our understanding of the barriers to engaging in innovation and how to overcome them, we give more entrepreneurs the tools and confidence they need to start innovating, grow their business and build an economy that is fit for the future.