23 March 2022
Advanced Furnace Technology’s research director wins ‘Women in Innovation’ award
Engineering and materials science company Advanced Furnace Technology Ltd of Cambridge, UK (which provides specialist graphite services such as graphite cleaning, purification and coating) says that its director of research Dr Zoe Tolkien has won £50,000 and a mentoring and support package after being named a winner at the ‘Women in Innovation’ awards of the UK Government agency Innovate UK (which provides funding and support for business as part of UK Research and Innovation).
The funding is for a project that will focus on developing a high-throughput cleaning method to reduce costs associated with manufacturing silicon carbide (SiC) devices for power electronic applications such as electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines and solar panels.
“This award is continuing our reputation for innovation and enabling us to expand in high-growth markets,” Tolkien comments. “As a female entrepreneur, I think one of the biggest challenges can be self-belief. The innovation space is very male-dominated and women don’t often see themselves represented or feel inspired to get involved,” she adds. “I think it’s a challenge that needs to be addressed from a young age. Schools, parents and communities should encourage girls to innovate, be entrepreneurial and to lead,” Tolkien continues. “Too often I see online talks aimed at women in business addressing the ‘imposter syndrome’. It’s sad that we are brought up to feel we’re not good enough. I think change can only happen by changing the way we educate and talk to our girls from a young age.”
Innovate UK launched Women in Innovation in 2016 after research revealed that just one in seven applications for Innovate UK support came from women. Boosting the number of female entrepreneurs could deliver £250bn to the economy, it is reckoned. The number of women leading applications for Innovate UK support has since increased by 70%, it is reckoned. The award program aims to empower female business leaders to develop commercially successful solutions to major social, environmental and economic challenges.