The Women in Innovation Awards 2022 – My Journey So Far 

Following on from the announcement earlier this week, I am going to share my journey to becoming one of the Women in Innovation Award winners. This award first started back in 2016, when a gap was identified in the lack of women innovators in the UK.

Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ programme consists of funding competitions and events to encourage female-led innovation. The programme empowers pioneering female entrepreneurs to develop innovations. Delivered by KTN, the programme enables brilliant women to fully achieve their visions and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation. KTN and Innovate UK work in collaboration to create a vibrant community of female role models, sharing knowledge and encouraging entrepreneurial growth for women throughout the UK. Find out more at

Back in August 2021, I saw an advert for a webinar for the award, although I had never heard of it before.  I thought I would jump on to hear what they have to say and see if it were something I could apply for.

At the time, I had been working on developing an interactive disability awareness app. The app uses augmented, virtual, and extended reality to give everyone a real-life experience of disability. Having listened to the webinar, I thought my innovation was in-line with the eligibility criteria, and after speaking to somebody at Innovate UK edge (who I had had some support from in the past), I decided to apply.

The application was something I had never seen or experienced before. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was going to be a big learning experience for me. I wanted to apply to learn the process, gain confidence in writing such a detailed application, and get some industry expert feedback. In my mind, this would then give me the tools to reapply next time with a better application. 

During the six-week window to apply, I had some expert help.  There were several aspects of the questions that I didn’t really understand. Being dyslexic and trying to write the application using the correct terminology, was always going to be challenging. I had amazing help from Jamie and Phil at Innovate UK Edge.  They were patient, explained everything and allowed me to ask my constant list of questions!

After a few stressful weeks, I submitted the application in mid-October. I expected to hear nothing until all feedback was due at the end of December. If you were successful to the next stage, you would hear by mid-November, which I had blocked out of my head. Mid-November came, and I had an email to say that they were running behind time and anyone that was selected for an interview would hear by the end of November. The next stage was taking place at the start of December.

On 30th November late in the afternoon, I had an automated email to say that I had been selected for an interview. To put it mildly, I was in shock!  I didn’t know what to do and I started to panic. I messaged Jamie and Phil for some moral support, and they were once again amazing. I now had to do a 10-minute presentation with no more than 10 slides. I also had the chance to respond to the feedback I received from my written application form.   I was very apprehensive about opening the feedback, but I was surprised beyond belief. I scored 9.4 out of 10 for my video within my application form.  I scored an overall score of 84.5%, a score that I have never achieved in any exam or assessment before.

My days became quite manic, because I had to write a presentation and know it off by heart.  I was allowed a little bit extra time due to my stammer, but I kept it as close to 10 minutes as I possibly could. I practised constantly on my own at home, reading through my notes, reading through the speech, and memorising the presentation. The day before my presentation, I practised on three close friends. They gave me some great feedback and challenged me with some intense questioning!

The day of the interview arrived, and I had one last practice with Jamie at Innovate UK Edge and then I was on my own! It was over in a flash. I was pleased with what I had done, and I knew I couldn’t have done any more. Now it was down to what that panel of five women thought of me and my innovation.

A couple of weeks passed and the announcement was due on 17th December – let’s just say I was a nervous wreck. I kept refreshing my emails every 2 to 3 minutes, it was ridiculous.  I went downstairs for lunch, trying to take my mind off it, and thinking that I had missed my chance.

I checked my emails after having my lunch, and behold I had an email. I was shaking and I couldn’t open it I was so scared.  However, I composed myself and clicked on it. It was the best news that I’d ever had – I had WON! I squealed a bit, and then I decided to make a trip home to share the good news with my parents. That didn’t go according to plan, as they had locked me out, and I couldn’t just burst through the door with excitement on my face!  I rang the doorbell (picture me on the doorstep, holding some champagne, giggling).  Dad answered after unlocking all of the bolts and locks, and all I said is “I won!”. We had a great night celebrating, but I always knew that the hard work was just about to start.

This award means so much more than just the recognition that I have a good idea. It’s recognition from business professionals. It shows that I am accepted as a female entrepreneur. It gives me a unique opportunity to develop as a person, and continue with my vision of changing perceptions of disability in society.

So, the year ahead is unknown, and it’s going to be the next level! It will change me, and the opportunity for Ability Consultancy (NW) Limited is incredible. It is everything and more that I have worked so hard for since 2017. I am not going to lie; it is going to be a crazy journey.  There will be many bumps in the road, but I’m going to grab the opportunity with both hands, and I am not going to shy away from anything.

Most of all, I will learn to accept and be proud that I am an award winner for the Women in Innovation cohort of 2022! 

a range of women / business women and the words Women in Innovation


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