Following a nationwide competition to identify and empower the country’s most promising female entrepreneurs and future business leaders, this October Innovate UK announced the names of the 34 women shortlisted for its infocus awards for 2016.
Beth Dawson, from Fuel Cell Systems Ltd, reached the final stage of the competition and impressed Innovate UK’s panel with her plan to develop a portable, Mini Hydrogen Refueller to be carried by breakdown service vehicles. The refueller is designed to offer an emergency fuel top up for the growing number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the UK.
With a government commitment to eliminate harmful emissions from cars by 2050, major motor manufacturers, (including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda) are developing and launching hydrogen fuel cell powered cars into the UK market as a key element of the solution. Giving drivers confidence that fuel will be available, particularly in the early months and years after launch, will be key to their success with the public.
Beth’s idea, to develop a portable refuelling system, which would be carried in standard breakdown recovery vehicles, could form part of this solution.
With women in the UK half as likely to start a new business as their male counterparts, or indeed seek out external sources of funding, Innovate UK’s 2016 infocus awards have sought to redress this imbalance by celebrating, supporting and enabling women in innovation. As a finalist, Beth will receive a year’s mentoring and a business support package to help get her project off the ground. She is continuing to explore funding options for the project.
Beth Dawson commented: “It’s a real honour to be recognised as a ‘Woman in Innovation’ by Innovate UK, especially amongst such an impressive finalist group. I understand that this call received many more project submissions than expected, so I’m proud that my idea for a Mini Hydrogen Refueller was so well-received. Hydrogen fuelling continues to be a hurdle for fuel cell and dual-fuel vehicles and I believe that a spectrum of fuel delivery options could be an enabling step for this early market. Fuel Cell Systems Ltd and I look forward to making this a reality in the near future.”