A second phases of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation awards programme will be ran in 2018, according to the UK body.
The programme will consist of a funding competition and support package to encourage more female-led innovation. The second Women in Innovation competition will seek ideas that address the four large challenges posed by government’s Industrial Strategy: AI and the data economy; clean growth; future of mobility; and ageing society.
Challenges from AI and data economy are aimed at embedding AI across the UK to create thousands of good quality jobs and drive economic growth. The clean growth challenge aims to maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth, through leading the world in the development, manufacture and use of low carbon technologies, systems and services.
Through the future of mobility challenge, the UK aims to become a leader in innovations in engineering, technology and business models and look for opportunities to improve customers’ experience, drive efficiency and enable people to move around more freely. The Ageing Society grand challenge is aimed at harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society and create an economy which works for everyone, regardless of age.
The first phase of Women in Innovation programme was launched in 2016 following a research that found just one in seven applications for Innovate UK funding came from women. To address this, Innovate UK conducted its first women-only competition, which provided £50,000 funding each for 15 female-led businesses plus mentoring.
Since the launch of the programme, there has been an increase in female registrations for Innovate UK support from 14% to 24%. Innovate UK CEO Ruth McKernan said: “It is fantastic that more women are coming to us for innovation funding and support, but we need to go further. Our 2018 Women in Innovation programme is designed to help many more women achieve their business ambitions, drive UK growth and productivity, and harness the full talent pool.”
Innovate UK will also run quarterly innovation accelerator workshops to encourage more women to innovate in business nationwide. Additionally, it will review existing programmes to see how it can better promote and inspire diversity.