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Female Entrepreneurs from Wales Win National Award for Innovation

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Two female innovators from Wales have been backed by the UK Government as part of a group of the UK’s most visionary female entrepreneurs to drive forward their novel innovations and business ideas to help build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the UK’s climate change ambitions.

Announced earlier this month by UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway to mark International Women’s Day, the Women in Innovation Award winners will receive a cash injection of £50,000 each to scale up and bring to market their disruptive business ideas, many of which have been created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The entrepreneurs being backed today from Wales are:

  • Alison Ettridge from Cardiff, who will help businesses better attract, recruit and retain female engineering talent with Talent Intuition. Her data modelling tool analyses the flow of female engineers including their journey from education to a professional role. Alison hopes her work will better inform the Government about the size of the gender skills gap and ultimately bring change to the sector.
  • Deborah Coughlin from Wales, has launched her app Wakey which combines mental health technology with prescription entertainment.  She has been delivering well-being advice and entertainment on her weekly breakfast show throughout the pandemic. Deborah’s talent has already been recognised with her work featuring in NME’s Top 50 Most Innovative and in Huck Magazine’s Future 50.

Commenting on her award and project, winner Alison Ettridge said:

“Not only will this award enable us to accelerate ambitious plans for our business, it will in turn help other organisations to attract and develop more diverse talent. As one of the founders to have been selected, I am privileged to be in such a strong company and it’s my hope that our collective effort will inspire other female innovators.”

This funding is part of the UK Government’s flagship Women in Innovation Awards, delivered by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which seeks to boost the number of UK female entrepreneurs and which could deliver £180 billion to the economy.

It forms a key part of the government’s ambitious R&D Roadmap, published in July 2020, which committed to supporting the UK’s innovators and risk-takers by backing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the funding needed to scale up their innovations.

Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart, said:

“The UK Government is proud to support the Women in Innovation awards and the two winning entrepreneurs from Wales should be exceptionally pleased with everything they have achieved with their businesses.

“The pandemic has been incredibly challenging for businesses across Wales and the UK so it fantastic to see Welsh entrepreneurs thriving with plans for further growth and development as we look to build back better and stronger from Covid-19.”

UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“As we build back better from Covid, it’s a priority of mine to continue equipping our brightest female innovators with the tools they need to succeed, while encouraging a new generation of women to come forward and pursue their ambitions.

“Today we are supporting two of our most trailblazing female entrepreneurs in Wales, helping them to turn their innovative ideas into a reality – from a data tool to help get more women into engineering to an innovative app delivering well-being advice. This will help to create the products and services needed to improve our lives and boost the UK economy.

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK said:

“With 2020 proving to be an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and particularly women, continuing to support female entrepreneurs in 2021 has been a real priority for Innovate UK. We have had an enormous response and we can see some positives from the pandemic, with some of our shortlist inspired to start up a business in response to some of the challenges it has brought.

Working alongside the winners, Innovate UK will help them grow further. We can’t wait to see what else these inspiring women achieve and how they can be an example to inspire the next generation and to encourage more women-led businesses in this country as we rebuild and recover.”