Last week, 26 entrepreneurial female students celebrated the completion of Queens’ Students’ Union’s Ninth Annual Innovateher Programme by pitching their new business ideas in the hopes of winning a share of a £1000 prize pot.
Innovateher is a 13 week programme consisting of a range of workshops and events designed to inspire and equip the next generation of female students. Over the course of the programme, the cohort cover topics such as Idea Generation, Design Thinking, Pitching, Marketing and Leadership. This year, we welcomed our new sponsors, Baker McKenzie, alongside our long-term partners Women in Business.
A highlight of this year’s programme was the ‘Inspire Me’ event which took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Innovateher cohort were joined by other students from across Northern Ireland as they heard from a range of inspirational females including Marie-Claire Le Houerou and Kerry Thompson, Baker McKenzie; Yolanda Cooper, We Are Paradoxx; Aimée Clint, Books by Stellas and Yasmin Geddis, Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust.
The final week of this year’s programme saw our group of budding female entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a Judging Panel comprised of Roseann Kelly, Women in Business; Jennifer Ferguson, Baker McKenzie; Helen Kirkpatrick, Chairperson QUB Students’ Union Management Board; and Claire Ferris, Work West Enterprise Agency. The ideas ranged from recycling plants for shopping centres to apps to positively impact mental health and a clothing range created through upcycling.
The programme came to a close with a graduation event hosted at the Women in Business offices in Glandore, Arthur House. The evening welcomed external sponsors and guest speakers as the group received special awards and proudly celebrated their completion of the programme.
After a high standard of pitching during the final week of the programme, our judging panel awarded Roisin Kennelly the £250 cash prize for ‘Most Innovative Idea’ for her idea ‘FreeFlow’ which aimed to create a sustainable menstrual product for endometriosis patients. After a great pitch which presented a creative, innovative and a viable product, Roisin’s business idea stood out amongst the rest due to her passion, storytelling and industry knowledge.
The prize for ‘Best Use of Technology’ was split between two startup ideas which tackled current issues by offering innovative technological solutions: Ashley Rosen’s ‘Ever Adaptive’ which uses simulation training to bridge the soft-skills gap in the workplace and ‘Well2Do’, a new Health and Wellness app created by Caroline Coburn, Clare Rhine and Ashley Rosen.
The prize for Judge’s Choice was awarded to the business idea that impressed the panel with both its concept and delivery. After much deliberation, the £150 prize money was awarded to Ciara Brady, Sinead Leyden and Megan Swann from ‘Not Tonight’, a reusable straw that detects spiked drinks.
Finally, the £250 prize for ‘Best Pitch’ was awarded to SZNII, a sustainable fashion brand, who stood out to the judging panel with their creative and interactive pitch which incorporated props, prototypes and photos.
The team at Enterprise SU would like to thank the Innovateher cohort of 2020 for all their hard work and participation, our sponsors Baker McKenzie and Women In Business for their continued support, and Glandore for kindly offering their event space.
The QUB Enterprise SU InnovateHer programme was definitely one of my many highlights this year. It has shaped my future study and career pathway irreversibly.Megan Lowry, QUB student