Scotland’s only awards programme wholly dedicated to supporting entrepreneurial women has been launched today (Monday, 20 November, 2017). A free, market-building trip to meet business angels and industry leaders in California is once again on offer.
The 2018 AccelerateHER Awards winners will also be travelling to Dubai, for a similar programme as California, with the opportunity to meet key industry contacts and investors, showcase their business at events and potentially attract investment.
Now entering their third year, the awards are designed to inspire and support more female-led companies in Scotland. The programme provides a great platform for aspiring businesswomen to showcase their companies to an audience of angel investors, commercial advisers and fellow entrepreneurs. To date, more than 300 businesswomen have joined the AccelerateHER community with the 2018 Awards expected to attract an even larger group of entrants.
The awards, organised by Scotland’s only all-female business angel group Investing Women and sponsored by Gareth Williams at Skyscanner, are open to businesswomen whose companies have strong growth potential. Entrants will initially be asked to submit a video pitch and executive summary via the Investing Women’s website, outlining their business, its ambitions, growth plans and investor potential. Deadline for entries is 28th January 2018.
All participants can access a ‘boot camp’ early in 2018, free professional pitch advice and webinar training, with the finalists also accessing 1:1 coaching to harness their creativity and improve their presentation style. A panel of highly experienced judges will then review the submissions and draw up a shortlist of 12-15 entrants who will present to a panel at the end of February 2018. From there, up to nine participants will be invited to the Investing Women Ambition and Growth Conference in Edinburgh on 8 March, 2018(International Women’s Day) where they will make their pitch to an audience comprised of some of the country’s most successful business leaders and angel investors.
Last year’s winners Rebecca Pick of Pick Protection, Heather McDonald of WooHa Brewing and Polly Van Alstyne of Scottish Bioenergy attended a summit of investors in San Francisco; meeting industry and finance leaders hot on the heels of the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. This year, in addition to the California expedition, winners will also be eligible to join a second trip to meet industry leaders and investors in Dubai, thanks to a partnership with the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot Watt University.
Further information on the 2018 AccelerateHER Awards is available at: www.investingwomen.co.uk/accelerateher2018/
Details about a separate stream of AccelerateHER Ambition Award categories, for innovative start-up companies in their early stages, can also be found on the website. These remain open to entrants until 1 December. Winners in these categories will be awarded free conference and awards dinner tickets and a cash prize of £500 and will be presented by an ‘under wraps’ celebrity that evening.
Jackie Waring, CEO of Investing Women said: “We are delighted to be expanding this year’s AccelerateHER Awards programme to include our newly developed links with the Dubai-based investment community, including female angels based there, and with the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot Watt. I would urge all aspiring female entrepreneurs across Scotland who are looking for profile and investment for their business to put themselves forward for this year’s awards.
“Last year we attracted over 100 impressive award entries, underlining a great range of innovative and attractive female-led companies in Scotland. These awards continue to provide a great platform for so many of the women who have participated. Finalists over the last two years have gone on to secure a more than £3.5m worth of growth financing between them since their involvement in the programme.”
The 2018 AccelerateHER Awards are also being supported by LINC Scotland, the nation’s national association for business angels. LINC’s Chief Executive David Grahame said: “We are proud to support the AccelerateHER Awards as they provide a great platform to promote female entrepreneurs and their companies across Scotland. Investing Women should be applauded for the fantastic work it does to encourage businesswomen to grow their companies and realise their maximum potential.”
One of last year’s AccelerateHER Award winners was Polly Van Alstyne, Chief Operating Officer at Scottish Bioenergy, a company, which produces a unique natural blue food colourant from spirulina algae. Since winning her award, Scottish Bioenergy has relocated its operations to a larger premises at Lanarkshire’s BioCity Scotland. In August the company secured investment of over £500k to help further develop its technology.
Commenting on her experience as an AccelerateHer winner, Polly said: “Getting involved in these awards has been hugely significant for our business. It helped raise our profile across both domestic and international audiences, which has undoubtedly been a factor in the growth of Scottish Bioenergy. The trip to California with six other successful, intelligent and energetic female entrepreneurs was particularly inspiring. We met renowned angel investors and venture capitalists, which was informative and motivating. The advice was top-notch and it made me re-consider our whole approach to the US, a critical market for our business. The awards have been a great experience, both for me and the company, introducing me to some outstanding people and helping us secure significant investment into the business. I would encourage any businesswoman looking to take her business to the next level to enter AccelerateHer.”