As a dedicated business support provider, Exemplas, alongside St John’s Innovation Centre, delivers Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in the East of England, which helps SME’s through tailored innovation and growth support. As part of the Innovate UK family, Enterprise Europe Network supports Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ programme which consists of funding competitions and events to encourage female-led innovation. This sits alongside EEN’s Women Entrepreneurship Sector Group, formed of international experts, which supports women-led businesses to find international trade partners.
Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, offers 10 Women in Innovation Awards to female entrepreneurs across the country. Along with a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support, the winners also receive a £50,000 grant. The programme was launched in 2016 after research revealed that just 1 in 7 applications for Innovate UK support came from women. The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship estimated that an additional £250 billion could be contributed to the UK economy if female entrepreneurs started and scaled their businesses at the same rate as men. Since the launch of the programme, the number of women leading applications for grants to Innovate UK has increased by 70%.
Innovate UK announced the new awards on International Women’s Day in March. The competition is split into two phases: phase one requires a written application that is assessed by independent experts and in phase two, shortlisted applicants are interviewed by a panel of experts.
Part of the bespoke package the winners receive includes support from an Innovation Growth Adviser from the Enterprise Europe Network. They will provide tailored business support to help maximise the winner’s project and business potential.
The competition closes on 14th October 2020. Successful applicants will be invited to interview on 26th November 2020, followed by the interview panel week commencing on 7 December 2020. Award winners will be notified on 23rd December 2020.