Women in Innovation

Innovate UK’s Women In Innovation programme consists of funding competitions and events that enables brilliant women to fully achieve their visions and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation.

Innovate UK’s Women In Innovation programme consists of funding competitions and events that enables brilliant women to fully achieve their visions and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Women in Innovation programme which forms an integral part of Innovate UK’s 2021-2025 Plan for Action for UK Business Innovation. Through the Women in Innovation programme, we are nurturing pioneering women to embrace innovation, grow their businesses, and develop their own diverse teams for positive economic, environmental, and societal change.

The Rose Review published in March 2022 reported that during the past two years, more women than ever have started new businesses. Over 140,000 all-female founded companies were created last year, and this figure is growing by over a third each year. It means that in total over 20% of new firms are now led by women.

The Women in Innovation programme was launched 1 June 2016 to address the under-representation of women engaging with Innovate UK, to get more women with excellent ideas innovating in UK businesses, and boost the economy. Since then the number of women leading applications for grants to Innovate UK has increased by 70%. We are now proud to be supporting a Women in Innovation community that encompasses over 9,000 members, and have provided awards to 118 women at a total investment value to date of £5.1 million.

Through the Women in Innovation Awards, at least £1million will be provided to pioneering female entrepreneurs to develop innovations such as those to tackle climate change, developing new treatments and services for healthcare patients and cleaner transport. These pioneering women will be awarded with a cash injection of £50,000 each, as well as receiving coaching and mentoring.

The Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22 have now closed. The next application round will open in August 2022 – please subscribe to our newsletter for updates.

Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22 Winners: Pioneering women going beyond boundaries

As we enter a post-pandemic world in the UK, it is essential for us to increase our support and reaffirm the strength of our commitment to the UK’s emerging women innovators whose businesses are meeting the pressing challenges of today. In 2021, we received a record number of applications and selected 38 remarkable applicants for our Women in Innovation Awards, which include a cash injection of £50K each, as well as a bespoke package of business support, coaching and mentoring. These ambitious and pioneering winners, located in all regions of the UK, are working on a wide range of innovations across many different sectors.

From a blood test to allow earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer to wearable tech that acts like your own physio and ‘leather’ made from garden waste, the winners’ game-changing innovations are tackling some of society’s biggest issues.

“We proudly support this diverse group of trailblazing women, who are changing the world through the power of their ideas. Their innovations underpin solutions, inspired by societal and environment challenges, as well as their own lived experiences. I hope their stories, documented throughout this brochure, will encourage and inspire others to follow their lead.”

Indro Mukerjee
CEO, Innovate UK

“Innovation is, and must be, for everyone and I am delighted that the Women in Innovation Awards 2022 are bringing together the UK’s innovation community to rightly celebrate 38 of the most innovative women in the UK and their ground-breaking ideas. I’m delighted that these awards continue not only to support our fantastic female innovators to turn their ideas into valuable solutions to global challenges, but also to inspire the next generation of women to follow their entrepreneurial ambitions.”

Jo Shanmugalingam
Director General Science, Innovation and Growth at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

The stories of our inspirational award winners will inspire the next generation of women changemakers. 

Read about all 38 Women in Innovation winners in our brochure:


Previous Award Winners

Previous winners of the Women in Innovation Awards have had a huge impact on developing ideas while creating a new community of female entrepreneurs, proving that anything is possible. Read their stories in our previous brochures:

Innovate UK has also created a booklet to celebrate women in innovation, showcasing the journeys of 30 female entrepreneurs and their experiences with the program. Click here to learn more about the remarkable success of the Women in Innovation programme.

Women in Innovation: “Let’s Talk About…” and “Building Success” Webinar Series

The “Let’s Talk About…” and “Building Success” webinar series were designed to start conversations, share stories and provide inspirational advice and insights from women and male allies at the heart of the discussion.

Chaired by a guest host, and featuring a panel of incredible speakers, we welcomed our community members to join powerful conversations, ask the questions they most wanted to know, share tips and advice, and most importantly, get motivated and uncover their true potential.

The series may be continued in 2022, so keep an eye out for our latest updates.

Find all recordings of previous Women in Innovation webinars here.

Upcoming women in innovation events 

We will continue hosting regular webinars and events discussing key topics to support pioneering women achieve their business ambitions. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned!

Women in Innovation Programme partnerships

The Women in Innovation programme works to promote female role models and business leaders to inspire the younger generation into innovation.

We partnered with Getty Images Gallery and acclaimed photographer Amelia Troubridge in 2017 to showcase 12 of the award holders from our female-only funding competition. The resulting exhibition and photography book shows that a woman in innovation doesn’t look a certain way. Our award holders vary in age, background, education, location and approach.

In 2019 we celebrated the second cohort of Women in Innovation Award winners, who were innovating to tackle the Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges. We also sought to inspire the next generation by addressing the gap of visible role models.

With women featuring on just 14% of the 900 blue plaques in London, with a similar story elsewhere, we started marking the achievement of the winners by putting up purple plaques in schools right across the UK. 18 plaques have been showcased from 2019 to date, with the aim to put up many more.

Innovate UK is continuing to support women-led businesses to access global markets, working closely with international partners and Innovate UK EDGE to deliver a Women in Innovation Global Business Innovation Programme with the Netherlands this year. We also partnered with the Department for the Economy as part of its commitment to further increase its impact by working with key regional stakeholders.

Furthermore, we are continuing our work with the investor community and UK Business Angels Association to foster a more gender-diverse investment ecosystem in the UK, and with Founders4Schools to enable our Women in Innovation community to inspire students up and down the country.

Women in Innovation Building Success Webinar Series

The Building Success webinar series has been designed to provide practical advice and tools for women innovators. The series explores topics ranging from marketing through to intellectual property, funding & finance and HR & recruitment. Find out more and watch past recordings here.

Join the Women in Innovation Community

We are now proud to be supporting a Women in Innovation community that encompasses over 9,000 members.

Through Innovate UK KTN, we are providing key advice, connections, resources, and an annual programme of events – making community support and networking opportunities more accessible than ever.

Innovate UK EDGE continues to offer business growth support to the award holders through one-to-one coaching and mentoring.

We are delighted to see how previous winners have encouraged our latest award holders to apply, demonstrating the value of peer support and the strength of women uplifting one another.

We know there is more to do to encourage more diverse role models and to continue our outreach to support underrepresented communities. Our commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion is at its most notable through our Women in Innovation and Young Innovators programmes, but it is embedded in all we do at Innovate UK.

Click here and become a member for free today.

Subscribe to the Women In Innovation newsletter for competition updates.

Current Women in Innovation funding opportunities

Innovate UK Smart Grants: April 2022

Opens: 25/04/2022 Closes: 27/07/2022

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing, commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy. It must be an innovative, disruptive, ambitious, world-class solution, with no similar technology commercially available any

More Information

Innovation Loans Future Economy Competition – Round 4

Opens: 09/06/2022 Closes: 13/07/2022

UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

More Information

Fast Start: Innovation for net zero and healthcare

Opens: 11/07/2022 Closes: 26/07/2022

Innovate UK is offering small and micro businesses a share of up to £30 million in grants for affordable, adoptable and investable innovations in net zero and self-driven healthcare.

More Information

Women in Innovation Events And Recordings


Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22 Briefing Event

10.00 - 12.30 | Online

Watch Now

International Women's Day 2022: Women Innovate

09.30 - 15.00 | Online

Watch Now

Meet the Woman Innovator – Session 1

10.00 - 11.00 | Online

Register for this event
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