Shining a Spotlight on Women in Innovation


Blog by Innovate UK 

Women are 50% less likely to set up a business than men. But, this doesn’t mean women are less innovative! So, there’s an urgent need to encourage women to make their mark in the world of business innovation.

After discovering that only 1 in 7 lead applicants to their funding programme was a woman, Innovate UK decided to take positive action and launched the ‘Women in Innovation’ campaign.

The campaign not only set out to support women with great ideas, but also encourage others to follow suit.

It’s time to shine a spotlight on the women of this campaign! Here’s a closer look at women in innovation.

Shakar Jafari – TRUEinvivo

We’re becoming increasingly aware of the need to encourage more girls to study STEM for the future of medtech. This is made even more apparent by role models such as Shakar Jafari.

Shakar Jafari received Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation award in 2016 and is the CTO and founder of TRUEinvivo, a company that develops micro silica bead array detectors.

An Innovative Radiation Detection System

After losing her father to cancer, Jafari discovered that over 50% of cancer treatment is unsuccessful. This inspired her to try and make a difference in how the disease is both detected and treated.

Jafari developed a radiation detection system to measure the dosage of radiotherapy given to patients. This not only improves the treatment, but reduces its cost.

Funding from Innovate UK

Before the funding from Innovate UK, Jafari struggled to balance being a female entrepreneur with being a mother. Finding both the time and the resources to complete her research proved extremely challenging.

So, the award provided both the funding and the necessary support for Jafari to continue with her ground-breaking project. Since then, the company has only continued to grow!

Recognising women in the medtech sector is not only essential for getting innovative projects off the ground, but also for empowering others.

Fanzi Down – DPS Designs

Fanzi Down is the commercial director of DPS Designs, one of the UK's leading design, moulding and toolmaking businesses.

The company specialises in two different sectors: design and mould making for the chocolate manufacturing industry, and a toolmaker for the aerospace industry.

Fanzi Down’s Influence

On the confectionary side of the company is Fanzi Down, recipient of a 2016 Women in Innovation award.

The firm works alongside well-known companies such as Thornton’s and Hotel Chocolat, and is renowned for its creativity.

Down has single-handedly had an enormous impact on the company, alleviating its status. The company is now a recognised and indispensable partner to many other firms!

Down credits some of her success to the Women in Innovation award, not only for the funding, but for the invaluable support network that came with it.

The award allowed Down to discover what she was good at and explore her potential fully. She’s a clear example of not only the urgent need to support women in innovation, but the success of doing so.

Balancing Family and Business

One common question asked to women in innovation is how they balance home and work life.

Down accepts that balancing your career and family is challenging for both men and women.

The answer? Flexibility! Working from home for part of the day or fitting five days of work into four days are ways that Down balances home and work demands.

Clearly, the answer doesn’t lie with women giving up their careers to focus on family.

What Does This Mean for Other Women?

Jafari and Down only serve to prove the impact women can make in business innovation.

These strong role models play a part in overturning the negative gender stereotypes that discourage women from choosing their favoured career path.


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