It's International Women in Engineering Day 2020!

23 Jun 2020

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International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) is an annual awareness campaign on 23 June, to celebrate and raise the profile of women in engineering and encourage more people to consider the opportunities within engineering as a profession for all. As this year’s theme is #ShapeTheWorld, we’re throwing the spotlight on our innovative, world-shaping women Hub Members! At the Enterprise Hub, not only do we believe that engineering entrepreneurs play an important role in helping to find solutions to global challenges, we think women have a vital role in the success of this, by bringing fresh, diverse and inclusive ideas to the sector. To demonstrate this, we asked our women Hub Members for their views on what they’re doing to shape the world.

Why does engineering have an essential part to play in shaping the world?

Dr Enass Abo-Hamed is CEO of H2Go. Her team provides a clean, low-cost energy storage solution that has the capacity to store five to ten times as much energy as their battery equivalents.

“If you want to make a difference in a fast-changing world that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, engineering will have a lot to offer you and can ensure that you make a difference throughout your career. Building solutions to problems is what I like to do, and I realised that it will always involve engineering. Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I realised that engineering would be at the heart of any solution to help tackle energy poverty and climate change.”

Neuroscientist Dr Amber Hill is CEO of R-grid. R.grid is software tool that has been designed to streamline unstandardised, qualitative research into patient and public involvement and engagement activities (PPIE) into a quantitative data, which is essential for advancements in healthcare R&D.

"I have a slightly unconventional path to engineering, via biomedical neuroscience. I have an interest in artificial intelligence and virtual reality to widen access to research and increase efficiency. There are so many areas of engineering that are growing, changing and positively impacting the world. One of the unique aspects of engineering is that it gives us the tools to create our future and improve the infrastructures around us. Anyone with an interest in discovery or inventing something new should explore engineering."

From medical technologies, to innovations targeting sustainability challenges, we’re proud to be supporting a range of innovations from our women Hub Members - they’re all solving a variety of problems for the greater good. So how have our women Hub Members helped to shape the world?

Dr Cristina Blanco Andujar is CTO of MediSieve. MediSieve helps doctors to rapidly target and remove infected cells from a patient’s bloodstream using a technique known as magnetic blood filtration. 

 “We are developing a technology that aims to revolutionise the treatment of blood-borne diseases. Our aim is to provide doctors with the tools to remove unwanted disease-causing substances from the patient’s bloodstream, which has the potential to bring benefit not only to patients but also to clinicians all over the world... knowing that what you do can make a difference in people’s lives is all you need to keep going.”

Dr Katerina Spranger, CEO of Oxford Heartbeat. She has developed a medical software that accurately simulates how a medical prosthesis called a stent will behave inside a patient’s brain pre-operatively in a virtual environment, allowing a clinician to plan for brain surgeries.

 “My background in engineering helped to shape a mindset that we should challenge the status quo, while also offering me insight on the immense power that technology has to rectify existing issues. My team and I are now applying both of these principles to one of the most challenging areas of brain surgery, in the process redefining how surgical preparations are carried out and shaping the medicine of tomorrow.”

Dr Florence Gschwend is CEO of Lixea, a cleantech startup. Wood biomass is a clean alternative to unsustainable petrol-derived materials, fuels and chemicals, but its use is limited as it requires fractionation, a complex and costly separation process. Florence works on finding a cheaper and sustainable alternative.

 “I work on a new chemical process that uses an innovative and environmentally friendly solvent to make use of waste wood and agricultural residues as raw materials for renewable chemicals, materials and fuels. As such, my work contributes to the circular economy and the bioeconomy and supports the achievement of various sustainable development goals.”

Lise Honsinger is CFO is Notpla, a bio-plastic alternative startup. 50% of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away, with estimates suggesting that plastics can take several centuries to decompose. Their packaging is made from plants and brown seaweed, that biodegrades naturally in 4-6 weeks.

 “We have chosen to tackle the growing plastic pollution problem and find ways to replace packaging with natural materials, and as such, I get to go to work knowing that I am making the world a better place.”

Virginia Gardiner is CEO of Loowatt. Loowatt designs and manufactures high quality, waterless flush toilets that could significantly improve access to adequate sanitation and hygiene where it is most needed. Currently, 60% of the global population does not have access to safely managed sanitation, meaning that untreated waste from 4.3 billion people enters our environment every day. 

“Working in sanitation never gets old, because toilets touch every aspect of life - we use them multiple times a day, how they are made is a reflection of our culture in the most basic sense. Like engineering, but moreso, sanitation is related to many disciplines - physics, chemistry, logistics. Sanitation is a challenging field in which to innovate, but it offers rewards every day, because it is both fascinating and fundamental.” 

Engineering underpins the world we live in - whatever interests you have, what walks of life you’re from, engineering will have had a part to play in it. We hope these brilliant women have inspired you to come up with solutions to some of the world’s most complex challenges. If so, we would love to hear from you and see how we can support you on your journey. 


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