Imperial’s flagship programme for female entrepreneurship is mid-way through its second year, and is enjoying more success than ever. The Althea-Imperial Programme is a personal and professional development programme aimed at women studying at Imperial. It consists of a series of workshops and business coaching designed to help female students to develop their enterprising ideas. The programme includes high-profile speakers from across industry, tailored one-to-one mentoring, and opportunities to network with like-minded individuals. The Enterprise Lab at Imperial College is grateful for their partnership with the Althea Foundation that has formed the basis of this unique programme, the core purpose of which is to improve the balance of women participating in and leading enterprise activities at the College. The ultimate aim of Althea-Imperial is to expand the pipeline of enterprising women in STEM going on to become leaders in the workplace.
This year’s cohort all had the chance to progress to the Althea-Imperial Prize, where the coaching and mentoring is ramped up, and individuals and teams are encouraged to submit their enterprising ideas for the chance to win a top prize of £10,000. The final of the prize was held on the 3rd of May 2016 and IBP members were invited to attend this exciting event. We had an excellent range of students taking part, developing ideas such as cancer detection tools through to smart water filtration membranes.
The Althea-Imperial team has expanded and built on the success of the 2014/2015 programme. New initiatives include pitch performance training in collaboration with the Royal College of Music, and coaching on design thinking from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College Business School. The team has also made a concerted effort to widen the pool of mentors who will coach the students in the run up to the final of the Althea Imperial Prize.
Althea alumni have gone on to rapidly develop the ideas they created during their time on the programme. Clementine Chambon (Althea-Imperial runner-up 2015) has worked relentlessly with her co-founder to develop their social enterprise, Oorja. In its pilot stage as Chambon completes her PhD in chemical engineering at Imperial, Oorja aims to provide electricity and biochar from farming waste to more than 400 million off-grid people in India by building “mini power plants” that will later be run by local entrepreneurs. Clementine and her co-founder have received numerous awards and grants from organisations such as Echoing Green. Most recently, Clementine was recognised as one of Forbes’ “30 under 30 Europe” in the Social Entrepreneurs category and was shortlisted for the WISE Tech Start-up Award 2015.
Last years’ runners up Kerry O’Donnelly and Angela de Manzanos developed FungiAlert, a low-cost, easy to use device that allows farmers to detect the presence of pathogenic spores before they infect crops. Phytophthora, a soil-borne plant pathogen, is responsible for loses of $5-7 billion per crop per year. Since winning their prize, Kerry and Angela have secured space in an accelerator, registered their company, and are now working full-time on FungiAlert actively looking for further funding and support to develop this innovative piece of technology.
In the 2 years since its inception, Althea-Imperial has provided guidance and coaching to over 100 inspiring female entrepreneurs. The programme forms part of a broader landscape of women@imperial, working in synergy with initiatives such as the women@imperial week, and the Athena Swan Charter. The Althea-Imperial team hopes to invest in the future of the programme by providing specialist one-to-one support and funding for building and protecting participants’ ideas.
To work with the Althea Imperial Programme please contact Harriet Flower (email: firstname.lastname@example.org ).