The future is bright, thanks in no small part to all the female STEM entrepreneurs bringing new innovations to market. With that in mind, here are the women who look like setting science and tech alight in 2016
I’ve already come out as a STEMinist – a supporter of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. And while I am a big fan of female entrepreneurs in all sectors, I have a particular respect for those who launch new businesses outside traditionally female sectors such as food, fashion and floristry. As someone who started my own media barter business, I know the twin challenges involved in starting a complex business in a traditionally male-dominated sector. It's for that reason that I’ve dedicated my list of people to watch in 2016 to female STEM entrepreneurs.
Amelia Humfress is the founder of Steer, a London-based coding and web development service that aims to make tech education accessible by teaching beginners to code in five days or less. As well as coaching budding coders, the company also offers courses in iPhone app development and front-end web development, having taught more than 800 people to date. Humfress discovered her passion for coding as a marketing intern with Jimmy Choo, where she worked closely with the e-commerce team. She realised that if she wanted to learn, others would too.
Coding is now a must-have skill, as reflected in the fact it was recently made part of the national curriculum. And, thanks to the efforts of trailblazers like Humfress, Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons and celebrities such as Lily Cole, more women are being encouraged and inspired to build a career in this field.
Technology enthusiast Alice Taylor founded MakieLab in May 2012. The company uses 3D-printing technology to enable kids to design and print their own 3D dolls – called Makies – along with accessories. Taylor has worked in technology for years: as former education commissioning editor for education at Channel 4, she developed a number of projects around alternative reality games and other interactive formats. Taylor was also an Iris Award finalist in this year’s NatWest everywoman awards for the most inspirational and successful female entrepreneur using technology in an innovative and disruptive way.
Okay, so Anne-Marie Imafidon isn’t strictly an entrepreneur but she did co-found the Stemettes project, which aims to inspire the next generation of women into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She also launched Outbox Incubator, a scheme that provides seed funding, intensive mentoring and ongoing support for teenage girls looking to launch innovative businesses in the STEM sector. Imafidon boasts her own unique set of achievements including being one of the youngest girls ever to pass A-level computing – at the tender age of 11. She also graduated with a masters in mathematics and computer science from Oxford at just 20 and currently works as an enterprise collaboration strategist at a global investment bank. With her bags of natural talent and leadership on these mentoring schemes, Imafidon is definitely one to watch in 2016.
Teenager Nina Devani is the youngest entrepreneur on my list and the founder of software solutions company DevaniSoft. Her app, Prompt Me Nina, helps consumers to remember passwords and has been downloaded thousands of times since its launch in 2013. She continues to feature in most inspiring female entrepreneurs lists so I am clearly not alone in being impressed by her energy and ambition.
Founder of bike safety startup Blaze, Emily Brooke was the 2014 winner of the NatWest everywoman Iris Award. Her product, Laserlight, aims to keep cyclists safe by projecting a bicycle image six metres in front of the cyclist, making them more visible to oncoming traffic. Not one to rest on her laurels, Brooke’s company recently launched the Blaze Burner, a back light with 24 LED lights and an intelligent sensor that switches on automatically at dusk or under bridges and tunnels. It also features a magnetic bracket and charging feature. In short, the Blaze Burner is a true feat of engineering.
All five of these successful STEM businesswomen are energetic, impressive and, above all, great role models for the next generation of female science and tech entrepreneurs. Suffice to say, I look forward to reeling off a whole new list of names next year.