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24 March, 2021 - 21:13 By Tony Quested

Trio of Cambridge women honoured for pioneering innovation

MedTech to level the playing field for ethnic minorities, a storytelling app to help young people manage chronic pain and a tool to combat poisonous material online have earned three Cambridge women entrepreneurs £50k each from Innovate UK.

Nicola Filzmoser, Sasha Haco and Dilrini De Silva are recipients of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation awards which recognise breakthrough and novel business ideas. As well as the money, winners receive a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support. 

Nicola Filzmoser has developed the Happyr Health app. Having suffered with migraines from an early age, she designed the app for children and young people; it uses storytelling and gamification tools to help them to manage chronic pain.

Cambridge graduate Sasha Haco is developing a tool to identify harmful or abusive online content through her business Unitary. Her work uses computer vision technology to identify harmful content, in context, instead of relying on vast numbers of human moderators. She believes the technology could dramatically increase the identification and removal of such content online.

Dilrini De Silva aims to improve treatment options for ethnic minority populations who are currently underrepresented in medicine development. Her company Jāna Biois is a pre-seed, biotechnology startup which uses AI and state-of-the-art stem cell engineering techniques.

The trio have been chosen in a cohort of 40 of the UK’s most visionary female entrepreneurs to drive forward innovation to help the UK bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “As we build back better from Covid, it’s a priority of mine to continue equipping our brightest female innovators with the tools they need to succeed, while encouraging a new generation of women to come forward and pursue their ambitions.

“Through this initiative we are supporting three of Cambridge’s most trailblazing female entrepreneurs, helping them to turn their innovative ideas into a reality; their products and services will help improve lives and boost our economy.”

Nicola Filzmoser said: “We are excited that, together with the Women in Innovation Award, we can bring our story to life to engage children with chronic pain in their disease management. Most importantly, I am excited to share this journey with fellow female entrepreneurs and be a voice for all those young people who need our support.” 

The funding is part of the Government’s flagship Women in Innovation Awards which seek to boost the number of UK female entrepreneurs deemed capable of delivering a combined £180 billion to the economy. 

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Innovate UK said: “With 2020 proving to be an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and particularly women, continuing to support female entrepreneurs in 2021 has been a real priority for Innovate UK. 

“We have had an enormous response and we can see some positives from the pandemic, with some of our shortlist inspired to start up a business in response to some of the challenges it has brought.”

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