Taking the time to apply for awards may seem to be time consuming especially as a start up with so many areas to take action on. However, have you considered the full ROI they may present? InnovateUK’s Women In Innovation Award Winner 2019, Dolores Sanders shares her experiences to highlight the opportunities that become available after winning an award.
How the InnovateUK Award increased our credibility:
“The most tangible benefit has been a commercial benefit from the award. I have utilised the award as a platform to say what we’re about as a company – TotalControlPro™ is innovative, we are the future technology partners for our customers and we can do so due to the backing from InnovateUK and being backed by hard cash of private investors and the reinvestment of our loyal long term customers revenue. It gives a great deal of credibility to our marketplace and we’ve definitely seen an upturn in not just the amount but the the calibre of customers that have been coming to us all as a result.”
For our customer we also trust this award has been beneficial, they can be assured that our company, finances, and product development, is continuously assessed and validated, via the monitoring process and the conditions as a innovative research and development led company. The due diligence is carried out by both InnovateUK, the EEN and our shareholders, to hold us to account to deliver what is needed in the manufacturing industry.
What Benefits Did You Notice as a Result of the InnovateUK Award?
The first thing that really fascinated me was the access to publicity the award gave myself and the company. We had professional photographs of us all, both as a group and as individuals – which was fun and we’ve been able to document that journey and reflect on it.
We had the opportunity to go to number 10 Downing Street, by invitation of Prime Minister, Theresa May, for International Women’s Day, and that was such a great event. There were more than 100 successful and influential business women at Number 10 celebrating International Women’s Day, talking, sharing, chatting. At this point, the award winners hadn’t yet met each other but within an hour, at that reception, we’d all found each other. We had everyone helping us find each other. It was a real demonstration of how women working together can be very powerful.
There was also a boot camp where we had various sessions of the nine of us getting together, learning from each other and learning from some of the support systems set up by InnovateUK. Between the nine of us, we set up a Whatsapp group so we could support and ask questions, as well.
There have also been a number of other events which we had the opportunity to attend. I travelled to Bilbao and some of the other award winners went to other countries where they shared about our technology, which opened up even more opportunities. That was part of the Enterprise Europe Network and the DIT.
There’s a great deal on offer through the award, and you select the opportunities that best serve your business. You do have to deliver on a project and you have a monitoring officer and a coach on your project, who makes sure that the project is following the milestones and the deliveries that are required. You have to account for all the money that you’ve spent, because it’s public money, so you have to show that it’s been spent effectively and delivers a solid return on investment to the UK Manufacturing Industry. That’s quite a good learning process. For us, we already had that in play, but I know for some of the award winners, really having that strong monitoring process taught a lot about project delivery and keeping it on time.
We also did some media training among other things. But I think overall, the biggest opportunities included meeting the other award winners, the previous cohort and building this platform of Women in Innovation and highlighting what’s possible. Visibility is key, and the more that we can do to be visible, the better.