Jackie Waring, CEO of Investing Women

ORGANISERS of the AccelerateHER Awards have launched their 2021 programme today which will be staged online including a virtual finals event celebrating the achievements of inspiring and ambitious female business founders. 

The annual awards provide an opportunity for businesswomen who have founded or co-founded their companies to raise their profile, gain access to leading figures from the global investment community and expand their network. Winners will once again secure a place on an international trade mission to Europe, North America or the Middle East, which is planned for later in 2021, but will be dependent on government rules over foreign travel and social distancing in light of the global pandemic.

The AccelerateHER Awards 2021 are open to applications from women whose companies fit into one of the following four categories: MedTech and Science; FinTech and Cyber Security; CleanTech and Climate; or Disruptive Innovation. All companies must be UK-registered and trading, or intending to trade, in Scotland. Entrants will initially be asked to submit a video pitch, outlining their company’s ambitions, growth plans and international market potential. Deadline for entries is Friday 4th December.

A panel of highly experienced judges will review the submissions and draw up a shortlist of entrants from each of the categories who will present online to a panel in February, with up to 12 being selected as finalists.A winner for each category as well as a ‘Rising Star,’ for the female founder with the best early stage business idea, will then be announced at a virtual awards finals event on 25 March 2021.

Last year’s AccelerateHER Awards winners were Lise Pape of Walk With Path (MedTech and Science); Sheila Hogan of Tin Planning Ltd (FinTech and Cyber Security); Elaine Galston of Tubular Sciences Ltd (CleanTech and Climate); and Tersha Willis of Terrible Merch (Disruptive Innovation). The 2020 Rising Star Award went to Monika Ohashi of PolyDigi Tech.

2021 marks the sixth consecutive year of the AccelerateHER Awards, which are designed to inspire and support more female-led companies with strong global growth potential.

To date, more than 3700 female business founders have joined the AccelerateHER network.

Jackie Waring, CEO of Investing Women, the all-female angel group behind the AccelerateHER Awards, said:“While Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the global economy, it has not stopped female founders from continuing to excel across the business community. We are therefore determined this important event will proceed and, after our success in staging last year’s finals as a virtual event, we are confident we can deliver the full 2021 programme on a virtual basis.

“Our awards support Scotland-focused businesswomen by giving them an ideal platform to promote their companies and attract initial or additional investment to help them grow their business on a global scale. I would urge any ambitious female founder who wants to raise her company’s profile on an international stage to enter the awards. This includes those whose businesses are only at concept stage who could secure recognition through the Rising Star category.”

The AccelerateHER programme is sponsored by Barclays Ventures and supported by the Scottish Government, through its Women in Enterprise Framework and Action Plan, to help female entrepreneurs prepare for investment and growth.

The Scottish Government Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn said:

“Tackling the entrepreneurial gender gap is both an economic and moral imperative. The Scottish Government’s Women in Enterprise framework and action plan has a vital role to play, including supporting programmes such as AccelerateHER.

“Despite COVID-19, we know that many Scottish businesses have great potential for growth and I am delighted that Investing Women has been able to pivot delivery online, ensuring we can continue to support female entrepreneurs as they work hard on their business.”