This year, we're marking Black History Month at the Enterprise Hub by highlighting the amazing contribution that Black engineering and technology entrepreneurs have made to society and to raise awareness of the issues they may experience in this industry.
Now more than ever, we are talking about race - we are using terms like racism, privilege and power in public forums. These discussions are well overdue. This is why we are making the commitment to work towards making the engineering profession a more inclusive profession. Why is this important? Hub Member and SME Leaders alumnus Jordan McRae, CEO and Founder of Mobilus Lab, shares his views below:
Building racial equality into the future of engineering
The Royal Academy of Engineering will be campaigning hard to make effective strides towards racial equality. To get involved, check out the range of tools and resources that can support you to make a difference at your organisation this month here.
At the Enterprise Hub, we're going to be 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.
Naa-Dei is a biomaterials researcher who joined the Enterprise Fellowships programme this year. She is currently working on spinning out her research from the University of Birmingham.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
Black History Month has long been a good time to reflect on the history and achievements of Black people, as well as a time to consider our specific issues and how much work remains to do. I’ve never failed to learn something new that I previously had no awareness of and it’s always humbling, in a good way.
If you could give one piece of advice to new Black engineering entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I've often felt lonely - there aren’t a lot of people like you and it can feel like a lot of pressure to be the person who represents the Black community, which you can’t be. You’re just one person. Focus on what you’re doing and don’t worry too much about how you come across – your work speaks for itself.
How has the Enterprise Hub helped you?
I have found the Enterprise Hub really useful in terms of the education it provides, the exposure it gives me to different people and the problems they’re trying to solve. It’s a great place for getting different perspectives on the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
How has your background helped you with your entrepreneurial journey?
My background has definitely informed my choices on what I work on. The focus of my work has been on making treatment of serious eye conditions much less resource-intensive. One of my motivators for this comes from growing up in Ghana where the biggest challenge for people is often the lack of access – you can have the money to pay for treatment, but the treatment is either not available, or requires a lot in terms of equipment, trained staff and follow up sessions. It often leads to people having to travel overseas for treatment, which is an enormous waste of time and resources. The fact that making treatment easier is also useful and relevant in higher-resource settings has been a very pleasant surprise for me, and makes me feel that I’ve definitely come to the right problem at the right time.