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Five female South East entrepreneurs win national award and £50k funding

8 March 2023
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Five women entrepreneurs from the South East are among 50 winners of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation awards.

They have been recognised for the work they are doing on novel solutions to major social, environmental and economic challenges. Each winner is given a £50,000 grant, one-to-one business coaching and a suite or networking, role modelling and training opportunities.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day on 8 March, the winners from the South East are:

  • Iris Kramer, from Reading, Founder of ArchAI, who has developed software to detect undiscovered archaeological sites, using artificial intelligence and satellite imagery. Iris is already working with the Forestry Commission and the National Trust to locate new sites of interest and is helping the construction industry to de-risk new build sites.
  • Ameenah Begum, from Portsmouth, Founder of Planet Friendly Paint, who is supporting the circular economy by upcycling waste makeup into unique, zero-waste watercolour paints to help tackle Europe’s multi-million cosmetic waste problem.
  • Alison Callwood, from Guildford, who has founded recruitment technology start-up Sammi-Select, to ensure the online recruitment process is fairer and less biased, by removing barriers like unconscious bias that can hinder career opportunities for neurodivergent people.
  • Inas Ismail, from Surrey, Co-founder of Autsera, who is creating game apps that help children with special needs develop their social and communication skills, enabling them to gain confidence and become more independent socially, having felt lost trying to get timely and effective support for her own child.
  • Melanie Schatynski, from Brighton, who has founded My Code Kit and is making coding accessible to everyone through her unique educational tool Ocobox where anyone can have a go at coding and learn confidently.

Running for its sixth year in a row, the Women in Innovation Awards received a record 920 applications, up 10 per cent from last year. 22 per cent of the winners are Black, Asian, or from another ethnic minority group and 12 per cent have identified as disabled.

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Ameenah Begum of Planet Friendly Paint said: “I'm passionate about the way we choose to treat our planet and I want to encourage people to make more conscious decisions in their purchasing habits.

“I feel incredibly privileged to have won this Innovate UK Award and it fills me with confidence for the future. It’s come at a critical time for me to re-strategise and make my vision tangible. Now is the time for sustainable innovation to really flourish – before it’s too late.”

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.”

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Sam is the Regional Editor of Biz News. Currently responsible for Hampshire, he will soon take over Dorset.

A new recruit to journalism, Sam started writing for the Business Magazine as a freelancer in May of 2022 after completing his degree in English at University College London. His passion for local businesses and ability to tell a story soon caught the attention of the publication’s management team and have led to his meteoric rise.

Sam, who lives in central Reading, takes a particular interest in technology, gaming and food and drink, having been a chef before starting his degree.

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