The finalists in the 2013 NatWest everywoman Awards have been announced, with the Iris Award category interesting us at WITsend the most.
This category is for "the most inspirational and successful female entrepreneur who runs a technology business that makes a difference, provides real solutions in the world today and, ultimately, is instrumental in building a smarter planet."
The finalists for 2013 are:
· Christine Bhatt, from Chelmsford, Essex, aged 43, with her company Systematics International Ltd. Back in 2007 Bhatt led a successful management buy-out of Systematics International Ltd, a company which provides data processing and statistical reports to manufacturing industries worldwide. Manufacturers use the data to track the sales of products, identifying trends and sales fluctuations. Case IH, New Holland, Liebherr, Terex. She leads the team of eight from offices in Essex.
· Patricia O'Hagan, from Belfast, aged 52, with her company Core Systems. O'Hagan runs a software development company providing management solutions for the custodial market, specialising in high security establishments. Products are targeted to prisons and custody suites, for example its product Direct2inmate provides communication between staff and inmates eo ensure inmates can securely access information and make service requests, such as how much money they have or to book visitors. Products are currently implemented in a number of regions including Northern Ireland Prison Service, Irish Prison Service, Northern Ireland Assembly and US state Department of Corrections.
· Rebecca Bright, from London, aged 33, with her company Therapy Box. Bright is a speech and language therapist who works with adults with neurological disorders. Her work inspired her to launch Therapy Box with its first smartphone app - Predictable - in 2011 which is a communication aid with self-learning world prediction. With a team of 11 in the UK and 15 in India, where Predictable and more apps are developed, all are designed to enable people with severe communication and physical disabilities, to communicate with their families and wider society even with the smallest of movements, such as using a finger or puffing air.
Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman said: "Now is the time to shrug off the spectre of recession and celebrate the individuals who are contributing to economic recovery through their vision and success. This year's finalists unilaterally saw the opportunity for growth and have proven that the UK is enterprise friendly and open for business.
"Women-led SME's already contribute £70 billion to the economy. With an estimated 2.4m women not in work who want to work, if we could just equalise men and women's economic participation we could add 10% to the economy by 2030. It is vital, therefore, that we foster entrepreneurial culture to ensure the UK economy continues its recovery and its ability to compete on a global scale."
Anne McPherson, managing director, diversity in business at NatWest said, " We are delighted to be supporting the NatWest everywoman awards for the 11th year running and are particularly pleased to see so many of our customers being shortlisted this year.
"This awards programme has created some amazing role models who inspire other women to take their first steps in realising their business idea. NatWest supports everywoman to demonstrate our commitment to Women in Business."
Judges of the awards this year include including Chrissie Rucker (The White Company), Wendy Hallett (Hallett Retail), Camilla Stephens (Higgidy) and Anna Lee (Storm Watches).
The winner of the Iris award, along with four other categories, will be announced 4 December at a ceremony at London's Dorchester Hotel.