Award to celebrate high flying women in the North

Meet the firms putting inclusive innovation at the heart of their approach.

Influential female role models helping to make society more equitable, better connected or healthier are in the running for an Inclusive Innovation award to be presented at a prestigious ceremony in the north of England in less than two weeks. 

Ten finalists have been shortlisted for the award, which is sponsored by Connected Places Catapult and will be announced as part of the Northern Power Women Awards at Manchester Central on 20 March. 

To mark International Women’s Day (8 March), Connected Places Catapult is shining a spotlight on those shortlisted.

Finalists include Ability Consultancy, whose founder has developed an app that uses augmented and virtual reality to give non disabled persons a chance to understand how people with visual, hearing or physical impairments can be affected in their everyday lives. 

EY UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence is focused on data science and analytics, with the aim of encouraging innovation in technology and driving greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK workplace. It aims to increase the number of opportunities for neurodivergent individuals in Manchester. 

Financielle is a finance app aimed at helping women take control of their money to reduce debt, increase savings and invest for the future. Its founders hope to close the ‘investment gap’ between women and men, and have helped women to purchase homes as female solo buyers. 

Fund Her North is a group looking to increase the amount of funding that goes to investment ideas pursued by female founders or co-led teams, by helping to make connections and encourage mentoring. It has also founded a syndicate called ‘Women Angels of the North’ to further the cause. 

GB Shared is a network of sustainable marketplaces in North West England where businesses and residents can purchase and sell, recruit, win work and find contract tenders. The initiative is said to be having a positive impact on local economies and is to be rolled out nationwide. 

National youth charity OnSide is nominated for developing a network of ‘Youth Zones’ in economically disadvantaged communities to provide support and opportunities to thousands of young people. The centres offer a range of activities and affordable meals and feature sensory rooms for those with additional needs. 

Helping more people around the world get better access to healthcare is the aim of ORCHA which recognises the potential for digital health apps. It distributes these apps to doctors and nurses, encourages their use by patients and works to ensure they are safe and can be trusted. 

Medical training provider The Biograd Group has been shortlisted for offering staff enhanced benefits packages that include gifting employees half of their salary upfront after one year, to put as a down payment on a house. It also pays a minimum wage that is 20% of the average house price. 

United Utilities has launched a cultural text messaging service which sends out alerts to customer facing employees on key multicultural dates, alerting staff to the occasion and providing context. The service is said to have helped attract more diverse talent and made a positive customer impact. 

YZen a.i. has created an inclusive writing and communication tool for education, powered by artificial intelligence, that helps to detect bias and instantly imbed inclusion, cultural intelligence and compliance into communications, curriculums, course materials and campus cultures. 

“We sponsored the Inclusive Innovation award to understand how people would define inclusive innovation from across the marketplace, and to inspire people to amplify what they are doing. 

“We want to encourage people to ensure that when they innovate they think of inclusion in design and delivery. I am really proud of all those shortlisted for telling us their stories.” 
Alex Cousins, Connected Places Catapult’s Business Director for Local & Devolved Government
“We are delighted to support the Northern Power Women Awards which support inclusive innovation that foster economic growth in the North of England by creating new opportunities for women entrepreneurs and business owners. 

“The Network is a perfect partner for the awards because they align with our mission of championing innovation designed to meet the needs of all members of society, which is essential for creating more equitable, diverse and prosperous regions.” 
Simon Smith, Inclusive Innovation Network Lead