Black History Month at the Enterprise Hub 2

12 Oct 2020

Black History Month 2020

At the Enterprise Hub, we're throwing the spotlight onto our Black Hub Members to hear their honest views and experiences about working as a Black engineering and technology entrepreneur, and to hear their words of encouragement for future engineers and entrepreneurs.

Dr Amber HillAmber Hill BHM

Amber is a translational neuroscientist, software engineer and CEO and Founder of R.Grid, software that improves medical research efficiency.

Why is Black History Month important to you?

Growing up (and until recent years), Black History Month was the only time I’d hear about historical role models who happened to look like me and represented the values I’d been taught. Black History Month enables positive role models and untold contributions to be made more accessible to discuss, celebrated as common practice, and shared at scale.

If you could give one piece of advice to new black engineering entrepreneurs, what would it be?

My top piece of advice is to be mindful of the narratives that you tell yourself and what you allow into your headspace. Make sure that the moments that affect your energy serve your wellness and your next goal.

How has the Enterprise Hub helped you in your journey?

The Enterprise Hub has helped in a number of ways to shape and challenge my early commercial mentality and perspective. I’ve recently participated in a grant review and selection panel supporting diverse entrepreneurs. It was a pleasant opportunity to contribute to other engineers’ journey and to gain new experience and perspective as a grant reviewer.

Discuss some of the unique things you bring to your start-up, the benefits of investing in you and your team, the importance of diversity and inclusion in the innovation process, and what you feel could change to increase diversity in the start-up sector?

R.grid is a technology startup using machine learning to improve medical research efficiency. We’re strategically diverse in skillset, spanning across engineering, allied health, business, to graphic design. We’re effortlessly diverse with eight women, four men, Black, White, Brown, Asian, LGBTQ+, disability-inclusive, seven nationalities, nearly all in the same location.

This diversity of skills and culture enables us to rapidly build tech and share new perspectives on the product, business, design, accessibility, competitors, regulations, training, and techniques.

Investors have funded R.grid (pre-seed) for several reasons: a large, rapidly growing market, an under-explored niche, collective domain expertise, deeply technical skillsets in biomedicine and machine learning, deep networks, a great product and early traction.

Oddly, I’m an outlier for raising £1.1M+ in capital as a Black female founder - UK Black founders at pre-seed stage raise on average £166k, and there are similar trends seen in other countries. Statistics suggest that increasing the number of diverse decision-makers in the investment landscape could positively influence funding and resource barriers.

Despite this, I’d encourage all minority entrepreneurs to leave the statistics behind, mind the narratives they internalise, and pitch for the capital they need.

Melissa BHM photo

Dr Melissa Berthelot 

Melissa is the CEO and Founder of Warner Patch, a medical device that predicts disease evolution to enable clinicians to give preventive care.

Why is Black History Month important to you?

Black History Month is important to me because it highlights and acknowledges cultural differences in society and enriches minority communities. I think this is vital because it helps to raise awareness of inclusion.

If you could give one piece of advice to new Black engineering entrepreneurs, what would it be?

As a female engineer, I felt like I was invisible and an outsider in the first instance. It was difficult to be included in the team on a more social level. It was also very common for me to be the only female in the engineering courses I took, especially when I was completing my postgraduate studies. As a result, I felt the pressure “to prove I could do the job” and worked twice as hard. The fact that I’m a Black female engineer made it even more challenging.

I eventually stopped trying, as I soon realised that actions speak louder than words. So my advice is to continue to do the job the best as you can with a great work ethic and treat others the way you would like to be treated. That’s all you need to do.

How has the Enterprise Hub helped you in your journey?

By being accepted onto the Enterprise Fellowships programme, the Enterprise Hub has really helped with my confidence and boosted my self-belief. I feel like my skillsets are valued, and it is great to know that I have the support and backing of the Hub to be a successful entrepreneur.

What do you hope to achieve for diversity and inclusion in the engineering and tech sector? 

As a Black female engineer and founder, I hope to have opened more people’s minds to the importance of diversity and inclusion for building teams and improving the usability of our product based on different customers’ backgrounds. Hopefully, that can inspire others to take the leap to become an entrepreneur and to improve the lives of others.


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