ExpHand founder Kate Allan has won one of this year’s Women in Innovation Awards. We are honoured to have been awarded, and excited to use this opportunity to push our company forwards and elevate other female entrepreneurs along with us.
Innovate UK’s awards provide funding and support, which will be invaluable to ExpHand as we continue to grow. We’re incredibly grateful for the possibilities offered by this award, and look forward to working with Innovate UK going forward!
What are the Women in Innovation Awards?
Innovate UK is working to support businesses making positive change through innovation. This means that their awards are given to businesses seeking to make a positive change in society - by directly tackling economic, environmental or social issues. By funding female entrepreneurs heading up these start-up companies, as well as an invaluable mentorship package, Innovate UK are planning to grant these businesses the chance they deserve.
The Women in Innovation Awards is a program managed by Innovate UK. The award was introduced after Innovate UK discovered that only one in seven of their funding applicants were projects led by women, which was a significant underrepresentation compared to the national average. In response to this the Women in Innovation Awards were established to support women-led businesses, providing funding and mentorship as well as a community of peer support.
Winners of the Women in Innovation Awards are not only leading businesses making a difference, but are recognised as catalysts for change themselves. Former and current award winners act as role models for other businesses, encouraging women from all industry sectors to achieve their vision and become a leader in their field. In fact many of this year's applicants were encouraged to enter by former winners - proving that the flywheel has started to spin.
Why the Women in Innovation Awards are a big deal
This yearly competition has been working to aid businesses since 2016, and in that time has given £5.1 million to 118 women innovators. The result of coaching and nurturing these ideas has been immense. Helping these businesses start up allows the women leading them the opportunity to become role models for the next generation of female entrepreneurs, shifting the narrative around what an innovative CEO looks like.
Even outside the businesses that win grants, the community formed between applicants has made changes to the UK business landscape. Sharing experience and offering advice and feedback amongst peers has gone beyond what was initially expected of the project. This mutual support and guidance has meant the world to so many small businesses, and we're proud to be a part of it!
It's these elements beyond the financial that make the Women in Innovation Awards a game changer. An SME in any industry would benefit immensely from the network of experts and training that Innovate UK have to offer. A platform for female entrepreneurs to support each other is indescribably useful for everyone involved.
If you have further questions about Innovate UK and their commitments to diversity and equality, or perhaps want to send in your own application, you can find more information about everything we've discussed on their website.
How Innovate UK helped ExpHand grow
As previous winners of the Young Innovators Award, ExpHand knows first hand what a difference Innovate UK's program makes to small businesses. The Young Innovators Award is another project by Innovate UK to champion equality, and inclusion; and foster a more diverse investment ecosystem in the UK.
Starting as a dissertation project, ExpHand would not be where it is today without programs like those from Innovate UK. While we've always had a strong idea as the bedrock of the business, the benefits from the Young Innovators Award have helped us build a long-term business strategy and our problem solving ability since, as with any business, we have had our teething pains.
A funding grant made it possible for us to begin developing and manufacturing test models, a process that would have been much harder to get off the ground without that financial support. The procurement of a secure source of funding is huge for a fledgling SME, especially those in tech or development like us who require investment for product research to be carried out.
And again, while the breathing room offered by a cash injection is important, so is the feedback and guidance on offer from the coaching and support network. Making the wealth of information from so many other women in business makes so many more opportunities accessible than without, and so we fully recommend taking part. The benefits of merely being involved in the application process make the whole ordeal worthwhile.
Being selected for an award also offers a source of encouragement that your business is on the right track, improving the confidence in your ideas and your business aptitude. The recognition on offer from such an organisation is second to none. Coupled with the personalised mentorship, an award from Innovate UK truly allows you the opportunity to become a force to be reckoned with.
Next steps for ExpHand
This recognition from the Women in Innovation Awards has inspired us to give back to the community and help other aspiring female entrepreneurs looking to make their mark. Kate attended Aston University's annual Innovation Women Conference in March, and going forward we plan to do even more to service the network of support that helped get us off the ground.
As for ExpHand itself, we are launching our Beta Trial soon, which we'd love you to take part in if our prosthetics are relevant to you! If you'd like to read more about how we started you can find more information about us here, or for general enquiries you can contact us here.