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Three Women Trailblazers from Wales Win National Award and £50,000 Each in Government Funding


50 of the UK’s leading women entrepreneurs backed by Innovate UK for game-changing ideas

Using plants to recover metals from contaminated land and capturing ‘true-to-life’ data through mobile research units are among the ideas from three pioneering women from Wales who’ve been awarded Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards today.

These three women entrepreneurs are amongst this year’s 50 winners of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards who are developing novel solutions to major social, environmental and economic challenges. Each winner will benefit from a £50,000 grant, one-to-one business coaching, and a suite of networking, role modelling, and training opportunities.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8 March), the Awards reflect the government’s ambition to give more support to women innovators and business leaders.

The range of innovations from across the UK are vast, from health tech to education and from protecting lives to new ways to play music. The entrepreneurs from Wales recognised today on International Women’s Day which is encouraging people to “embrace equity”, are:

  • Lorna Anguilano, from Newcastle Emlyn, who has founded Phyona, which uses the root systems of plants to recover metals from contaminated soil, transforming it into high-value metal nanoparticles whilst returning the contaminated land back to health.
  • Dr Abbie Lawrence, from Cardiff, captures in-depth data through innovative mobile research units reaching underrepresented communities and helping small and medium-sized firms increase sales by offering them access to a simulation where they can explore customer’s buying habits in a physical mock-up of their shopping experience, through her business Consumer Insights Lab.
  • Beren Kayali, from Pontyclun, Co-founder of Deploy, who has created the first-ever flat-packed, inflatable water tank to tackle water storage problems in poor rural communities. Flat-packed for easy transport, it can be deployed in 24 hours.

The flagship Women in Innovation Awards is a key part of Innovate UK’s commitment to boosting the number of women entrepreneurs. Innovate UK will give all 50 trailblazers £50,000 and bespoke mentoring and coaching to enable them to scale-up their businesses.

Now in its sixth year, the competition drew a record number of 920 applications from women business leaders, 10% up from last year, reflecting the growing number of women-led businesses in the UK (according to the Rose Review Progress Report 2023, 20% of all UK businesses are now led by all-women teams).

Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation programme continues to support high-potential women business leaders from diverse backgrounds. With a passion to support underrepresented innovation talent, 22% of the winners are Black, Asian, or from another ethnic minority group and 12% have identified as disabled.

Commenting on her innovation and Award, Beren Kayali of Deploy said,

“During my masters, we went to Nairobi to do a waste management project. There, I visited one of the biggest slums in the world, Kibera, with one common toilet for more than 1 million people and a slurry river running through town. What I experienced there started my journey for increasing access to drinking water and sanitation, and now Deploy tanks can be used in various farming applications and in disaster relief. I am so proud of myself for winning the Innovate UK Award. I applied last year as well, and didn't even get to the interviews. So it’s important not to give up!”

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

“Each year I am blown away by the brilliant ideas and talent we uncover through our Women in Innovation programme. Despite these challenging economic times, this year’s winners have shown great leadership, passion and resilience in driving their innovations forward. Innovate UK will work alongside them now to ensure they have the resources and support required to grow and scale their businesses, while encouraging a new generation of women to get involved in innovation, pursue their ambitions and transform our economy and society.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said,

“The Innovate UK Women in Innovation programme is an important part of our many activities to make a real difference to the talent and skills pipeline for UK business innovation by inspiring, involving and investing in greater diversity. I warmly congratulate all the Women in Innovation Award winners and look forward to keeping in touch as they progress.”

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said:

”It is fantastic to see the UK Government providing funding and practical help to support women innovators who have so much potential to grow their businesses and be a force for change in their chosen industries.

“Huge congratulations to Lorna, Abbie and Beren on their achievements. I’m delighted that their talents have been recognised by this award for innovation. Their ideas are as diverse as they are ground-breaking, and will have a great impact beyond Wales’s borders.”

Details on all 50 women innovators can be found here:

If you’re an aspiring women innovator, check out how Innovate UK could support you here:

Business News Wales