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Bristol trailblazers among 50 entrepreneurs backed by Innovate UK

Fifty of the UK’s leading women entrepreneurs – including three from Bristol – have been backed by Innovate UK for game-changing ideas.

From a robotics company building multi-grip bionic arms for amputees and a research platform to better understand the challenges of and to reach vulnerable people to an AI digital pre-habilitation programme for cancer patients before receiving treatment, Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards will empower the women to scale their innovative businesses.

Each winner will benefit from a £50,000 grant, one-to-one business coaching, and a suite of networking, role modelling, and training opportunities.

The Awards reflect the government’s ambition to give more support to women innovators and business leaders.

The entrepreneurs include:

  • Samantha Payne, who has co-founded Open Bionics, a robotics company building multi-grip bionic arms for amputees, which are 3D printed to make them more affordable. Disney granted the company royalty-free licence agreements, enabling them to produce prosthetics based on fan-favourite characters like Black Panther, R2-D2 and Iron Man. A “Sidekick” app syncs the arm to the phone for personalisation, training and tracking performance.
  • Dr Rebecca Allam, a haematologist who has founded PreActiv, a ‘prehabilitation’ programme utilising the time people have before a cancer surgery to better prepare them for it. Her innovative AI-led digital platform creates personalised programmes from the time of diagnosis potentially reducing the risk of complications by 51 per cent, cutting down hospital stays by a third and allowing quicker recovery.
  • Laura Scanlon, who has co-founded Fatima, a research platform that ensures data is ethically collected, securely stored and rapidly analysed. This helps organisations looking to have a greater social impact to better understand the challenges of and to reach vulnerable people who are often overlooked and mistreated, and their data used without their consent or knowledge.

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 per cent up from last year, reflecting the growing number of women-led businesses in the UK.

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 per cent of the winners are Black, Asian, or from another ethnic minority group and 12 per cent have identified as disabled.

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.”

Pictured from left: Samantha Payne, Rebecca Allam, and Laura Scanlon

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