Women in Innovation Awards

United Kingdom
Phase: Anticipation
  • Access to finance
  • Support for digitalisation
  • Transition to a climate-neutral economy
  • Advice
  • Fostering innovation
Last modified: 19 August, 2020
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Women in Innovation Awards

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Women in Innovation Awards


The Women in Innovation Awards programme provides financial support and practical advice for women innovators in the UK. Women are eligible if they are the founder, co-founder or senior decision maker at a business that is based in the UK and has been active for at least one year. The work must focus on one of the government’s ‘Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges’:

  • artificial intelligence and data;
  • the ageing society;
  • clean growth; 
  • the future of mobility.

Main characteristics

The Women in Innovation Awards programme, which offers de minimis aid, assigns a grant of £50,000 (€55,000 as at 13 June 2020) to a number of innovative UK businesswomen. As part of the award, the programme also offers bespoke mentoring, coaching and business support to the award recipients.

The award programme was established by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency. It is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government

The award programme is part of the ‘Women in Innovation’ campaign, which aims to encourage female-led innovation. Other elements of the campaign include events and a webinar series entitled 'Building Success'. The events aim to provide practical advice and tools for women innovators, exploring topics ranging from marketing through to intellectual property, funding and finance and HR and recruitment. The events also enable women innovators to network, share experiences and develop collaborative projects.

The ‘Women in Innovation’ campaign is managed by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), a business focused network that supports scalable and sustainable innovations across sectors to drive economic growth for the UK.


  • National funds

Involved actors

National government
Innovate UK.


In 2016, only 1 in 7 applications for funding submitted to Innovate UK were led by women. Since the launch of the Women in Innovation programme in 2016, £1.2 million (€1.3 million as at 13 June 2020) funding support was awarded through the funding competition and the number of women leading applications to Innovate UK has increased by 70%.

In 2016, 15 female-led businesses were given funding and 16 award winners were given tailored business support.

In 2018, the second Women in Innovation competition offered funding, mentoring and business support to nine women innovators. Six Building Success events were held across the UK in 2018/19, with more than 500 women entrepreneurs attending.

In 2019, the Building Success webinar series was launched and it had 650 viewers by the end of 2019.

In 2020, funding is available for 10 grants. Another new element of the programme is a collaboration with Founders4Schools, to engage with schools and inspire future women innovators.


The award programme is open to a large group of women in business and research and development and it provides a substantial grant to the winners of the award competition to scale up and further develop their innovation.


The number of women innovators who can benefit from the award is limited: only 25 grants were awarded in two competitions.

While the award supports gender equality in research and innovation and more generally, in the UK economy, it cannot address the structural causes of inequality.


Previous award winners include: Daniela Paredes Fuentes, the creator of Gravity Sketch, software that allows designers to sketch in 3D; Agnes Czako, who invented AirEx, a smart-tech airbrick that could help householders save money on their energy bills by improving the energy efficiency of tens of millions of UK homes; and Dr Debbie Wake, the CEO, co-founder and clinical lead for My Diabetes My Way, a self-management platform for diabetes patients.
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