Loughborough graduate entrepreneur is among Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation

Loughborough University graduate entrepreneur Kate Allan is among the winners of this year’s Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award – and has much to celebrate today, International Women’s Day.

Kate is one of just 50 of the UK’s leading women entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas to be backed by Innovate UK. To support the scale-up of their business, each winner benefits from a £50,000 grant, one-to-one business coaching, and a suite of networking, role modelling and training opportunities.

ExpHand Prosthetics, Kate’s company, has developed a lightweight, adjustable, affordable and colourful prosthetic upper body limb for children that grows with the user. She was inspired to launch her company after meeting a young girl who needed a prosthesis.

She discovered that many children are not offered a prosthetic. Most are custom-made and individually fitted by a prosthetist, making them expensive and not suitable for reuse by someone else.

So, as part of her degree’s final year project (Product Design Engineering MEng, 2019), she set about exploring an alternative. In 2018, with the support of The Studio (the University’s startup programme), Kate launched ExpHand Prosthetics from LUinc., the University’s incubator based on its Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP).

Kate Allan of ExpHand Prosthetics smiling and holding a laptop and prosthetic.

Kate Allan, of ExpHand Prosthetics

Kate and ExpHand Prosthetics have drawn widespread interest and collected several awards. The Women in Innovation Award is the third she has received from Innovate UK alone. In 2021, she received a Young Innovators Award and, last year, a Young Innovators Next Steps Award.

Commenting on her current award success, Kate says: “90% of people across the world don't have access to the prosthetics they need, mostly due to a lack of doctors, lack of access and expensive products. ExpHand Prosthetics looks to change this by creating affordable prosthetics that can grow with you.

“I'm really grateful to be recognised among the Women in Innovation. The Award gives me a great platform to further grow the business – and will hopefully inspire more women to start their own companies and take on new leadership roles.”

The Women in Innovation Award

The flagship Women in Innovation Awards is an integral part of Innovate UK’s commitment to boosting the number of women entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders in the UK.

Now in its sixth year, the competition drew a record number of 920 applications – reflecting the growing number of women-led businesses in the UK. The programme supports high-potential women business leaders from diverse backgrounds – 22% of the winners are Black, Asian or from another ethnic minority group and 12% have identified as disabled.

Emily Nott – Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Programmes at Innovate UK – says: “Each year I am blown away by the brilliant ideas and talent we uncover through our Women in Innovation programme.

“Despite these challenging economic times, this year’s winners have shown great leadership, passion and resilience in driving their innovations forward. Innovate UK will work alongside them now to ensure they have the resources and support required to grow and scale their businesses, while encouraging a new generation of women to get involved in innovation, pursue their ambitions, and transform our economy and society.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, says: “The Innovate UK Women in Innovation programme is an important part of our many activities to make a real difference to the talent and skills pipeline for UK business innovation by inspiring, involving and investing in greater diversity.

“I warmly congratulate all the Women in Innovation Award winners and look forward to keeping in touch as they progress.”

The full list of 50 Women in Innovation Award winners is available on the I-UK website.  https://iuk.ktn-uk.org/programme/women-in-innovation/women-in-innovation-winners/