Women make up less than 24% of STEM industry employees, and only 24% of manufacturing employees specifically. The government is keen to focus on innovation and manufacturing in the UK to drive economic growth. Given that the manufacturing industry generates 11% of the UK’s GVA, it’s an essential segment of the UK economy. It’s also well-known that diversity in businesses drives economic growth, so it makes sense to be supporting women in innovation.
Luckily, with the UK’s first Science Minister, Amanda Solloway, and the CEO of UKRI, Dame Ottoline Leyser, there are two impressive women at the forefront of driving UK innovation. However, there are still very few women in innovation. So what are the barriers preventing women from starting or scaling up their innovative ideas and businesses?
There are many reasons, which include:
- Lack of information
- Lack of funding
- Lack of peer support
For women with an innovation idea, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to support and encourage women in innovation.
Getting funding or investment for a product-based business is often challenging, but there are options available to help women with an idea for an innovative product to get started.
On 8 March 2020, International Women’s Day, Innovate UK announced a new wave of Women in Innovation Awards. The awards aim to discover and support promising female innovators with their ideas and businesses. The winners will each receive £50,000 of funding, and a mentoring and growth package.
With so few women in engineering and manufacturing, it can be difficult to connect with female peers for support. Luckily there are networks set up specifically to connect women in STEM with each other. Some of the available options are:
- The Institute of Engineering and Technology Women’s Network, an online, global, professional networking community for women in STEM.
- MentorSET is run by the Women’s Engineering Society and is a mentoring scheme that matches women with an appropriate mentor to help them develop their careers.
- Diversity UK have a list of general female professional networks.
Bringing an idea to life
Having an idea for an innovative product or solution is often the easiest part of being an innovator. Knowing where to start when it comes to designing, prototyping, and getting your product to market can seem daunting.
For some entrepreneurs, outsourcing their manufacturing can help them to focus on developing the product and growing the business, knowing that the product is being produced to the highest standards. It can also be a surprisingly cost-effective solution compared to the overheads involved with manufacturing a product in-house.
At Nexus, we specialise in helping clients grow their product-based business. Our MD, Julie Dean, is passionate about supporting women in engineering, manufacturing, and innovation, and we’re proud to work with female innovators to bring their ideas to market with up to date methods and technology. If you have an idea for an innovative product, we’d love to see how we can help you.