Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2018 Winners

semifinal judgesThis week saw the culmination of months of work for 80 companies and start-ups who entered the Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2018 pitching competition. Eager entrepreneurs uploaded their pitch to the #VOOM website, where their supporters could vote for them and support them financially through crowdfunding.

Suw spent Monday 21st May up in Manchester judging the semi-finals, alongside Rosanne Gray from Virgin Unite, Phil Geraghty from Crowdfunder, and Luke Pharaoh from Virgin Start Up. Together, we were the the pitch judges for the Spark & StartUp category, for entrepreneurs and companies with 0 to 19 employees. We listened to nearly 40 two minute pitches and had a four minute Q&A with each entrant before they went on to be grilled by specialist judges on finance, marketing, and business planning & leadership.

If you want to watch the pitches, which alternate between the two categories, Spark & StartUp then Scale & Grow, and you can find them on Facebook:

The quality of the semi-finalists was incredibly high with some fantastic pitches for great businesses, some of them just ideas at this stage, some of them already established. Far too many of them deserved a place in the finals, so it was difficult to choose just three. In the end, we whittled it down to:

And in the Scale & Grow category, the judges chose:

  • Rejuce – beautiful juices from ugly fruit & veg!
  • Action Petz – where dogs’ dreams come true
  • Therapy Box – detecting and supporting communication disability

Junior EinsteinsThen on Wednesday morning at Tobacco Dock, the finalists gathered to make their pitch for one last time to five judges: Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, Sophie Morgan, serial entrepreneur and TV presenter, Susie Ma, The Apprentice finalist and founder of Tropic Skincare, Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, and, of course, Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.

Just as in the semis, the finalists had a two minute pitch and a short Q&A afterwards (you can watch the whole final on the Virgin Media Business #VOOM Facebook page – it starts at about 25 minutes in). The judges had the unenviable task of having to decide on the two winners, who were:

Category winnersSpark & StartUp: Tracey-Jane Cassidy – Junior Einsteins
Inspiring a love of science and learning in naturally curious children through hands-on interactive experiments at amazing science events. (left)

Scale & Grow: Rebecca Bright – Therapy Box
Therapy Box uses machine learning to diagnose, treat and support people with hidden communication disabilities. (right)

Partner awards also went to:

Paypal International Award: Lauren Hampshire – Milky Tees
Milky Tees are unique breastfeeding T-shirts with hidden zips at each side to help mums breastfeed easily, discreetly and stylishly!

Virgin Unite Impact Award: Joanna Wright – Organic Blooms
Picture 9 acres of organic cut flowers, add a handful of chickens and a team of amazing people, and you have the inspirational Organic Blooms.

The G Award: Gauthier Van Malderen – Perlego
Perlego is a textbook subscription service that is trying to make academic content more affordable.

Crowdfunder Award: Becky Ingham – Hookpod
Working to make longline fishing safe for marine wildlife, saving seabirds and potentially turtles from becoming bycatch in tuna fisheries.

Sir Mo Farah Going The Extra Mile Award: Nigel Blanchard – Heroes4Hire
A veterans only handymen service that recruits, trains and fully employs only ex-servicemen and women throughout the country.

Congratulations to all the winners and runners up!

Ada Lovelace Day became a #VOOM Partner because we believe that women make amazing entrepreneurs and we wanted to encourage more women to take part in a competition that would not only give them a chance to win financial support and access to amazing advisors, but that would help anyone who took part by raising their profile and helping them raise money through crowdfunding. We could not be more delighted that the list of winners ended up included five women out of seven awards.

Winners and judges

 

Win a ticket to Startup Grind London!

Digital Science and Ada Lovelace Day are giving you a chance to win a ticket to attend Startup Grind’s Europe Conference in June, in London. To win a free ticket worth £298, just tell us why you want to attend!

The event takes place on 13th June 2018 and brings together 2,500 founders and investors and over 100 European startups. There will be more than 75 speakers across three stages, featuring a range of sessions including keynotes, educational workshops, and VC Q&As, covering this year’s hot topics, such as Blockchain, AI, to name a few.

How to enter
Using the hashtag #DigiSciComp and CC’ing @findingada and @digitalsci, tell us why you would like to attend the conference. Keep your answers short and sharp (you only have a few characters!). Think about what you may learn by attending – the more adventurous, the better!

Here are a couple of examples:

  • #DigiSciComp I want to attend the Startup Grind because I want to network with some of the most influential people in tech!  @findingada @digitalsci
  • #DigiSciComp I am keen to attend Startup Grind because I work on one of the hot topics, I want to hear from the leaders in that field. @findingada @digitalsci

Tweets must be received no later than the 28th of May 2018 at 12pm BST, and you can only enter once. Please make sure you follow @DigitalSci and @FindingAda on Twitter, as we will need to contact you directly if you win.

All eligible tweets shall be considered by our three-person judging panel comprising: Katy Alexander, Suw Charman-Anderson and Cameron Shephard. The panel will select the winner which will be announced on the 31st May

We’re really excited to see what you come up with – now get tweeting!
Please read the terms and conditions before entering.

Ada Lovelace Day Live! to be hosted by The IET Women’s Network for next three years

We are delighted to announce that Ada Lovelace Day Live!, our annual STEM cabaret featuring women in STEM from across the UK, will be hosted for the next three years by The IET Women’s Network.

We were last at The IET two years ago with ALD Live! 2016 — you can watch videos of that year’s talks on YouTube — and we are incredibly happy to be returning. The Kelvin Lecture Theatre is a fantastic space, providing a wonderful backdrop for our speakers and an elegant and comfortable experience for our audience.

The IET Women’s Network is an online, global, professional networking community for women in STEM, where members can share information, knowledge and business contacts as well as find exciting volunteer opportunities. It’s a great way for women on a career break to stay engaged with the industry and make new contacts.

Inspired by the lack of women in engineering roles in the UK, the network was set up in 2012 with the aim of utilising its members to help spread a positive message of women in STEM, offer support to those already in the profession, help to inspire the next generation and demystify engineering and related areas to the wider community.

“The IET is thrilled to provide continued support to Ada Lovelace Day Live!,” said Jo Foster, diversity & inclusion manager at The IET, “and celebrate the many achievements of women in STEM. ALD Live! is a great platform to promote the profession, alter perceptions and inspire the next generation of engineers.”

“I’m looking forward to being back at The IET for Ada Lovelace Day Live,” said founder Suw Charman-Anderson. “The venue has a fantastic team and I am excited about working with them over the next three years. ALD and The IET Women’s Network share an important mission to support women in STEM, and this collaboration will help us to inspire, support and excite more women about their studies and careers.”

You can keep up to date with The IET Women’s Network via their Facebook page, on Twitter @IETWomenNetwork and via their online community.

ALD founder to be judge for new women in science award

Ada Lovelace Day’s founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, has been invited to be a member of the judging panel for a new award that recognises excellent in science research by women around the world.

Nature Research and The Estée Lauder Companies have launched two global awards today that seek to put a spotlight on both exceptional achievements of female scientists and those working to promote greater inclusiveness.

The inaugural Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science and for Innovating Science, in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies, will recognise inspirational early-career female researchers and those who have worked to champion women and girls’ participation in science.

The Inspiring Science Award, for which Suw will be a judge, honours female scientists who have excelled in scientific discovery and have completed their PhD within the last ten years. The Innovating Science Award recognises an individual or an organisation that has led a grassroots initiative to support increased access to, or interest in, STEM subjects for girls and women around the globe.

Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature Communications and judging panel member, said: “Given the inspirational advocacy for gender equality across society we’ve recently seen, it’s more important than ever that we do more to recognise and support the achievements of women in science, and that we encourage girls and women to engage with STEM subjects and pursue scientific careers. These awards will give a global platform to some of these women who may otherwise go unheralded, as well as celebrate the efforts of the leaders – women and men – behind initiatives supporting greater equality in the sciences.

“As Nature Research we are in a unique position to champion the achievements of researchers, and we have a responsibility to drive positive change in the research community. Our journals are committed to supporting gender equality, and we hope that through our connections with the research community we can identify some outstanding individuals deserving of these awards and use our international reach to share their stories.”

Suw said: “The importance of female role models in science cannot be overstated – girls and young women need to see that success is possible for people like them. The Inspiring Science Award will not just recognise excellence amongst women in research – it will also serve to create new role models to encourage girls and young women to consider a career in science.

“Ada Lovelace Day highlights the achievements of women in STEM, so I am delighted to be supporting these awards which will improve the visibility of women in science from around the world. An award that takes a global view and looks for nominees of all backgrounds is long overdue. Equality is not a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it is a ‘must have’, because diverse teams produce better results.”

Lisa Napolione, Senior Vice President, Global R&D, The Estée Lauder Companies and judging panel member said, “As a Company founded by a pioneering woman, supporting other women pioneers is at the core of who we are. We are thrilled to partner on these inaugural awards with Nature Research, an organisation that shares our values focusing on exceptional science and extraordinary scientists.

“We are so proud that more than half of our scientists and engineers in our global R&D teams are women. These scientists have revolutionised research in the beauty industry in a wide range of areas including cellular repair, circadian rhythm and epigenetics in skin. As we look to the future, ensuring a deep bench of research expertise among the next generation in emerging scientific areas is critical. We know first-hand that mentoring, and specifically mentoring of young women, is a strong contributor to long-term success, so we have built a scientific mentoring program into the Nature Research Awards. Our goal is to connect award recipients to scientific experts in their fields who have the unique skill set required to support and accelerate the awardee’s research progress.”

The winners of the awards will be announced in October. Both winners will receive up to $10,000 to spend on initiatives linked to the award and free training from Nature Masterclasses. The Inspiring Science Award winner will also receive grants of up to $5,200 to support open access publication of their research in a Springer Nature journal, and the Innovating Science Award winner will receive up to $5,200 to support events related to their initiative.

Nominations for the awards opened on April 9 and will close on June 11 2018. A longlist of ten nominees for each award will be announced on July 24, and a shortlist of five will be announced on September 4. Full details of the awards’ criteria and nomination processes are available at nature.com/researchawards.

Inspiring Science Award

The Inspiring Science Award welcomes nominations of exceptional female scientists and who are within ten years of completing their PhD. We encourage nominations from around the globe and from all subject areas. Candidates should be nominated by laboratory heads, department heads or someone else from their institute. This award is based on academic achievement, but our independent judging process and panel will ensure that those working in adverse circumstances or in regions where there is limited access to the scientific literature will not be unfairly disadvantaged. 

Innovating Science Award

The Innovating Science Award is open to anyone (individuals and groups) working on projects or initiatives that encourage girls or young women to become more aware of, or engaged in, any STEM subject in any region around the world. Nominations can be made directly by the candidate(s).

 

Addressing the gender pay gap

With news of the UK’s gender pay gap hitting the headlines, companies across the country are looking closely at how they treat women in the workforce. HR practices are, or should be, coming under scrutiny so that the right changes can be made to ensure that women are treated and paid fairly.

The UK’s Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework within which businesses must work, but it does not and cannot cover the societal, cultural and psychological factors which influence how women are treated. Indeed, our understanding of these factors is still developing, and so the solutions we need to put in place are constantly evolving. For example, studies have shown that implicit bias training can backfire, making people believe that, because they’ve had training to reduce their unconscious biases, nothing they do going forward could be biased, which then leads to more biased behaviour.

Rather than prioritising an attempt to alter people’s subconscious attitudes, which at best is a long-term challenge, it is easier and more productive to begin by altering business processes and standards, to ‘bake in’ fairness and awareness. Changing behaviours in this way is also more long-lasting — staff come and go, and new staff need training, but good business processes persist regardless of staff turnover.

There are many places where an examination of business practices can yield results, but our recent work on our online jobs fair for women in STEM has revealed that there are a number of relatively simple ways to significantly improve recruitment, retention and promotion of women. From changing the language and imagery used in job ads and marketing, to enacting flexible and fractional working, to restructuring promotion pipelines, small changes add up to big effects.

If you would like help assessing your existing marketing materials and internal HR processes, then you can now engage Ada Lovelace Day founder, Suw Charman-Anderson to work remotely or in person. If you’d like to know more, just drop us a line.