Innovate UK funds female leaders from the South West

Innovate UK VIKA

Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has announced the winners of the 2021/22 Women in Innovation Awards, including three female leaders from across the South West.

Each winner will receive a £50,000 grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support from Innovate UK EDGE.

The Women in Innovation programme was launched in June 2016 to address the underrepresentation of women engaging with Innovate UK, to encourage female-led innovation and to boost the economy. Since then, the number of women-led applications for Innovate UK grants has increased by 70 per cent.

Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK, said: “While access to finance is one of the biggest barriers to women successfully innovating in business, we are also aware that we must increase the diversity of role models in business and innovation if we are to inspire and attract more innovators.

“Through engagement with schools, regions and local and national media, the Women in Innovation programme promotes our award winners as relatable role models that challenge stereotypes and can inspire our next generation of innovators.”

Innovate UK EDGE South West will allocate an Innovation and Growth Specialist to each award winner who will help them to transform their research and ideas into tangible market value.

The three South West winners are: Victoria Forrest, VIKA

Bristol-based Victoria Forrest has created the first augmented reality book, ‘Where is the bird?’, designed to inspire the use of British Sign Language in deaf and hearing families.

Each page contains an illustration that triggers augmented reality animations together with a video demonstrating the sign language for that word.

Victoria said: “I want to raise awareness of deaf languages and culture to improve integration between deaf and hearing communities.

:The book’s videos will bring a static silent page to life, allowing deaf and hearing children to become more engaged with books and reading.”

Dr Ying Lia Li, Zero Point Motion

Bristol-based Dr Ying Lia Li is developing revolutionary motion tracking and navigation hardware, bringing the high-performance inertial sensors that exist in aeroplanes and spacecraft to consumer devices.

Ying. said: “I knew that to improve navigation and stabilisation, the market needed new sensor technology, but still at chip-scale size.

“Our inertial sensors will be 100 times more sensitive than those inside your phone. Imagine ultra responsive AR/VR headsets, and increased precision in robotics.”

Philippa Doyle, Bshirt Businesswoman and mum of two, Philippa Doyle is co-founder of the award-winning, sustainable breastfeeding clothing brand Bshirt.

The Devon-based company has developed a circular business model introducing a clothing rental service for bump, breastfeeding and beyond. Clothing made from recycled materials will be available for rent so that women can access sustainable clothes, in the right size, during each stage of their journey of motherhood.

Innovate UK EDGE will deliver game-changing growth support over the next twelve months and provide the Women in Innovation Award winners with access to the wide range of skills and services available from the Innovate UK EDGE expert community.