Supporting women founders at Future Space

March 7th 2022

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

International Women’s Day raises awareness of women’s rights. This year’s theme #BreakTheBias shines a light on the gender inequality that still permeates our world, especially within the workplace. Future Space is dedicated to helping women succeed in the sectors most known to be dominated by men and male voices – STEM. 

90% of our core team are women, so we know that one of the best ways to support other women is by giving them a voice. To celebrate IWD2022 we have invited some of the most inspirational women we know to join us for a live panel discussion in our hub on the day. 

Here, we share the stories of other female founders who have found a supportive home at Future Space.

"I feel passionate about seeing women in leadership roles who have a chance to chase their dreams. And if women want to stay home with their children, they should have that option. We should celebrate all of the choices that women make. Not push them into what we think they should be doing.”

Amanda Nurse, Co-Founder, Carterwood

Amanda has helped to build Carterwood into a multi-award-winning consultancy dedicated to social care. Her experience in the sector spans nearly 30 years’. Born in the north and comprehensively educated, she initially trained as a chartered surveyor. 

“I was the only woman to graduate in my intake. I was everything you wouldn’t expect a chartered surveyor to be - so I’m used to being different. I have personally never seen being female as holding me back, so I think I’m lucky in that respect. My business partner Ben has a private education, and he is a man, but we have both gotten to the same place in our careers.”

While gender hasn’t played a role in Amanda’s personal outlook, she admits to seeing gender inequality around her. “Around 60% of the meetings I attend I’m the only woman in the room. Only 10% are all female.”

As a member of the group Women in Healthcare, Amanda is passionate about supporting other women to succeed. “I feel passionate about seeing women in leadership roles who have a chance to chase their dreams. And if women want to stay home with their children, they should have that option. We should celebrate all of the choices that women make. Not push them into what we think they should be doing.”

If she could go back and give herself one piece of advice it would be to “have gotten a mentor at an earlier stage in my career. I would encourage women to seek each other out and help further each others’ career.”

"It’s hard to know if we would have been worse or better off if we were men. Obviously there is bias, but you might also get support you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise because you’re an all-female team and people want to be inclusive.”

Sian Fussel, CTO & Founder, Albotherm

Sian was carrying out research for her PHD at Bristol University when her and her now business partner Molly discovered technology that allows the properties Sian was working with to turn from transparent to white when they heated up. 

The discovery has led to the creation of their business Albotherm, which offers glass coatings that allow buildings and greenhouses to regulate their temperature without electrical input.

“I was working on the science side and Molly is interested in business”, Sian explains. “We’ve been working full-time together on the business for a year now trying to get investment and it is often one of the first things investors comment on. They say it’s rare to talk to one female founder, let alone two. We’ve met loads of female founders so I don’t think it’s that rare, but from the investment side it seems to be”

Albotherm won an Innovate UK grant in 2020, and received match funding to bring this up to £600k. Their team has grown to three, with another lady joining them on the science side of the business. “We’re lucky that our main investor is very supportive of the fact we’re all women. But of course you get the stereotypes around women being less likely to take risks and that we don’t sell ourselves enough. We get that feedback a lot.”

Sian feels the team has received a lot of support, but doesn’t know if this is because they are women, or if it would have been different if they were men. “It’s hard to know if we would have been worse or better off if we were men. Obviously there is bias, but you might also get support you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise because you’re an all-female team and people want to be inclusive. 

“That said, the conversations would have probably been different and there wouldn’t have been as much focus on the fact we’re all women. We haven’t gone out of our way to be an all female team, it’s just how it is. We don’t think we should use it necessarily to sell our business. It’s good to highlight that there is an imbalance and it’s amazing that we’ve achieved what we have, but it would be good if it was just impressive because it’s impressive - not extra impressive because we’re women!”

“I’m a believer in the fact that you reach the life lessons you need at the time. So my only advice would be to believe in yourself and be true to yourself and listen to the lessons around you."

Vicki Lamch, Founder & Managing Director, Pyramis Solutions

Vicki founded Pyramis seven years ago to fill a gap in the market for companies that had outgrown their accountant, but were too small to have their own finance department. She now manages an all-women team of four. 

“I fell into finance after school, it just suited my brain. I worked with a software development company for 12 years and went through the accountancy qualifications. One thing that became evident was that I loved the small business environment – you have to roll your sleeves up and be prepared to give anything a go.”

Growing up, Vicki played basketball and describes herself as a bit of a tomboy. “I’m used to being in male dominated environments. One difference I have noticed is that the support functions part of a business is often done by women, whereas the techies are mainly guys. Currently my team is all women, but our customers are heavily male dominated.”

Confidence is one of the key attributes Vicki believes is behind her success, but she acknowledges this can be a divider, too. 

“There are times when I’ve had to assert myself and have the confidence to show people that I know what’s best, and they can let me get on with the job. Women can feel less confident in their abilities. They will only go for a job they know they can do, men can be more daring and go for one where they know they don’t have all the skills.”

While Vicki doesn’t feel gender has held her back from reaching her dreams, she knows others that have experienced inequality and she hopes her story will inspire others to know they can achieve what they want to, too. 

“I’m a believer in the fact that you reach the life lessons you need at the time. So my only advice would be to believe in yourself and be true to yourself and listen to the lessons around you. Don’t do things that make you unhappy. If something’s not working, don’t hold onto it because you think you have to – be different, you’re allowed.”

Support International Women’s Day 2022 - share your story on social media using #BreakTheBias #IWD2022.

April 5th 2022

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space open for applications

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space Incubator is open again for applications from aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.

March 17th 2022

HomeLINK prepares to submit B Corp application

Fresh off their appearance on BBC Breakfast, we caught up with Sam Collier of Future Space alumni members HomeLINK to find out more about his team’s B Corp journey

December 23rd 2021

Indus Fusion: from start-up incubator to health tech innovators

Indus Fusion’s journey began here at Future Space and the University of the West of England long before they were officially founded in 2020. In June 2020 the team were awarded £75,000 from Innovate UK to develop an automated vaccine preparation service. We met up with their Co-founder Arthur Keeling to hear their story.