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5 Min Read

Innovation: Let’s hear it for the girls

You’d be hard pressed at the moment to get through a day’s media viewing without coming across mention of the gender pay gap. With it being a legal requirement for larger businesses with 250 or more employees to have published their gender pay gap data by April 4th 2018, the issue of equality is firmly on the agenda for business owners and employees alike.

So, with society questioning how far UK boardrooms have come on the journey to equality, we take a look at some of the ways women continue to champion innovation, disrupt their industries and leave an indelible mark.

Think of female innovators and you probably conjure up an image of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, or Marie Curie whose research was crucial in the development of X-rays. However, when it comes to females who are charging the frontline today you’d be forgiven for not being as forthcoming with suggestions. Far from taking a back seat, females are really holding their own when it comes to innovation today. So, let’s see who’s leading the way….

Elina Berglund, Natural Cycles

Elina Bergland is a Swedish particle physicist and entrepreneur. After studying engineering at the Lund Institute of Technology, Elina then went on to gain a PhD in elementary particle physics before working on the ATLAS project at CERN. As part of her work at CERN, Elina was in the team behind the 2013 Nobel Prize winning Higgs boson project, before going on to develop Natural Cycles – a birth control app.

The app analyses and logs users’ body temperatures using algorithms to work out a woman’s fertility cycle. And with algorithms being used throughout a variety of industries, from Big Data collected across manufacturing supply chains to Google using them to determine web page ranking, it was only a matter of time before algorithms were also used in other sectors too; an opportunity seized by Elina.

Following the development of Natural Cycles, Elina faced a number of challenges to launch her subscription-based app; none more so that the strict regulations which govern the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. However, having successfully launched in 2016, Natural Cycles has gained huge success across Europe with 125,000 women using the app in the UK alone. It also became the world’s first app to be officially recognised as birth control by the European Union.

Asha Peta-Thompson, Intelligent Textiles

Asha Peta-Thompson was a textiles student at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, where she became inspired to create textiles which could help develop National Curriculum skills in children with special education needs. Through this interest, Asha secured a research grant from Brunel University, which led her to discover her passion for construction textiles.

Following this, Asha founded Intelligent Textiles, which specialises in the development of electrically-active woven fabrics, or ‘e-textiles’. As a result, Asha has created a range of high-tech fabrics and components for commercial products, from heated bedding to ballistic body armour and iPod connected garments.

As a result of these innovations, the business is now working with the US Ministry of Defence to create e-uniforms that reduce the weight carried by soldiers in the infantry. Electronics are woven into fabric to create, in effect, a flexible circuit board that connects together all of the soldier’s equipment. This enables the use of a single power source instead of the multiple batteries that currently weigh soldiers down.

With the global market for wearable technology expected to reach £4.9bn in 2018, Intelligent Textiles is a great example of how smaller businesses and bigger multi-national companies alike are investing in this area; laying the foundations for a hyper-connected future.

Elena Dieckmann, Aeropowder

Elena Dieckmann previously worked as an international management trainee for Volkswagen AG in the Middle East and Russia. However, it was during her studies into innovation design engineering at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art in London that she began experimenting with the concept of using waste in sustainable materials.

It was this focus on enhancing environmental credentials, which includes a move towards a circular economy; where resource, input and waste, emission and energy leakage are minimised by closing or minimising energy loops, which saw Elena create Aeropowder.

Having seen how much waste is generated in the poultry industry, Elena became aware of the impact society will have on future generations. And with 10,000 tonnes of waste feathers produced globally every day, Elena took action to address this problem. Feathers, which are composed of keratin, are a chemically resistant and physically strong protein with a microscopic structure. They are also one of the lightest natural fibres and an excellent thermal insulator. By understanding these unique properties, Aeropowder successfully developed a number of ways feathers can be recycled and reused; from low-grade animal feed to building insulations to name few.

We understand innovation

With the innovation landscape continually evolving, it’s great to see female innovators are leading the way. At MPA Group, our team of tax credit specialists hold extensive sector experience, which means they work with you to identify qualifying R&D activity to make sure your business is claiming its full entitlement to R&D tax relief.

Get in touch for more information on how we can work with your business to unlock its potential.