What is the WE Innovate @ Imperial Programme?

The WE Innovate @ Imperial Programme is the new name for the Althea Programme. The programme is a personal and professional development programme aimed at women studying at Imperial.  It consists of a series of workshops designed to help you develop your enterprising idea.  The programme will include high-profile speakers and tailored one-to-one mentoring.

Once the programme is complete, all participants can opt to submit their ideas to the WE Innovate @ Imperial Prize.  Both the programme and its associated prize have been designed to encourage female students, through a series of exclusive development and mentoring opportunities. As individuals or by leading a team, these students will see an innovative project through to fruition.

The top prize is £10,000 and there are a series of runners up prizes.

The programme was founded in 2014 through the kind generosity of The Althea Foundation and Alexsis de Raadt St.James. We are extremely grateful to Alexsis, The Althea Foundation and there support for female entrepreneurship at Imperial College.

You can watch this short video to get a feel for the programme and hear from past participants of the programme:

The WE Innovate Programme and prize have been designed to develop female Imperial leaders who want to make a difference through an idea or project. The programme will provide tailored support focused on developing your skills and potential whilst guiding you to develop your innovative project idea.

For any questions about applying or eligibility, please email n.thakrar@imperial.ac.uk.

Applications open on the 29th September 2017, watch this space!

Are you eligible for the WE Innovate Programme?

The WE Innovate Prize

Participants who opt to submit their entries for the WE Innovate prize will be judged by the panel on:

  • Innovative or entrepreneurial approach

  • Creativity, imagination and the ability to think of solutions outside the box

  • Potential adoption and/or commercialisation of the invention/concept/idea/enterprise being proposed

Previous winners

Gabi Santosa
Gabi SantosaAlthea-Imperial Winner 2016
Gabi Santosa, an undergraduate student of Biochemistry, developed CustoMem; novel membranes that selectively capture and recycle micro-polluntants, including heavy metals. With their patent-pending, low-energy, low-cost scalable technology rooted in biological manufacturing, industries can adhere to increasing government wastewater standards. First, they are targeting the world’s second most polluting industry – the textile industry. CustoMem’s solution, however, can address hazardous wastewater from various industries (mining, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals).

Since winning her prize Gabi has graduated and working with her fellow CustoMem team to commercialise the product.

Florence Gschwend
Florence GschwendAlthea-Imperial Runner-Up 2016
Florence Gschwend is currently completing her PhD researching how to extract sustainable forms of energy from existing products. Her research interests inspired her to co-found Chrysalis Technologies, a start-up working on conversion of waste wood feedstocks to value added products such as biofuels, biomaterials and platform chemicals.

Since winning her prize Florence and her team were finalists in Mass Challenge 2016. Most recently Florence was recognised as one of Forbes 30 under 30 in Europe’s Science & Healthcare category.

Charikleia Spathi
Charikleia SpathiAlthea-Imperial Winner 2015
Charikleia Spathi, a PhD student of Civil & Environmental Engineering, developed a product which draws on the use of a waste material to develop a superhydrophobic powder. It is designed as a cost-effective waterproof solution for concrete buildings and critical infrastructure.

Since winning her prize Hara has gone on to file an international patent. This allows for more flexibility when engaging with potential customers. Her next focus is polishing the technical aspects of the product and exploring new ways of developing coatings based on the waste-derived super-hydrophobic powder. This was considered to be critical after taking into account feedback from potential end-users.

Further steps will include establishing collaborations with identified manufacturers of currently available waterproof concrete additives in the UK.

Kerry O'Donnelly and Angela de Manzanos
Kerry O'Donnelly and Angela de ManzanosAlthea-Imperial Runner-Ups 2015
Kerry O’Donnelly and Angela de Manzanos, two PhD students from the Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training, developed FungiAlert, a low-cost, easy to use device that allows farmers to detect the presence of fungal 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 the team have secured lab space for further prototyping; have registered the company; and have carried out further market research to validate their technology in other potential markets. Shortly, when their PhDs are completed, they will both be working full time on FungiAlert, and are actively applying and looking for further funding to support the development of this technology.

Clementine Chambon
Clementine ChambonAlthea-Imperial Runner-Up 2015
Clementine Chambon, a PhD student in Chemical Engineering, is developing an affordable solution to transform agricultural waste into clean energy for off-grid households and to increase crop yields for small-holding farmers in rural India. She is working with an Indian social entrepreneur to build and deploy decentralised waste-to-energy plants that sequester carbon through a micro franchise model.

Since winning her prize Clementine has gone on to undertake a field survey in rural Uttar Pradesh, India, to meet key stakeholders and undertake energy demand analysis. She and her co-founder have been awarded a prestigious Climate Fellowship from Echoing Green, an organisation that invests in early-stage social entrepreneurs, providing seed funding, mentoring and leadership opportunities to assist Clementine towards her ambition of building a mini power plant in rural India.

Programme Alumni

Christina Petersen
Christina PetersenAlthea-Imperial Finalist 2016
Since last year’s Althea Final, Christina has completed her master’s in Innovation Design Engineering and is now full-time working on her start-up LYS Technologies. LYS is currently going through prototype testing. LYS technologies shall be entering the market in Autumn 2017.
Lauren Dennis
Lauren DennisAlthea-Imperial Finalist 2016
An advocate of the Althea programme, Lauren is currently interning at Imperial Enterprise Lab and an EiR at the Althea Foundation supporting and promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship whilst working on her own enterprises. Most recently, Lauren showcased her Althea project, rural livestock disease rapid tests, at the MIT Conference on innovation and emerging markets in Africa.
Pae Natwilai
Pae NatwilaiAlthea-Imperial Cohort 2014
Pae Natwilai was in the first Althea Cohort with the vision of controlling drones by a “magic wand”. Three years have passed and there has no rest for the wicked. Pae has had huge competition success coming 4th place in the international student innovation award and winning the Women Innovate UK £50,000 for her start-up GetTrik. GetTrik uses Drones to help top inspection and maintenance companies to help them utilise UAVs to improve their speed and accuracy. Having been recently featured in the Huffington Post, Pae is currently talking to the department of international trade.
Dr Natalie Shenker
Dr Natalie ShenkerAlthea-Imperial Cohort 2014
Dr Natalie Shenker was shortlisted for the WISE Hero Award by the Althea-Imperial Programme for her work on providing donor human milk for sick and premature babies. Hearts Milk Bank was announced in January 2017 by sponsors VIIV Healthcare as one of the three Mass Challenge UK Gold Award winners for £10,000.

About the Althea Foundation

We welcome support and contributions from corporates, donors and partners.

Get in touch

The prize will bring together a range of internal and external partners to support applicants through the programme as part of ‘The WE Innovate Network’. The programme is specifically looking for Imperial alumni to contribute their time.

There are a variety of ways in which partners can support the prize, including through:

  • Mentoring: Providing one-to-one support to students sharing experience & advice to support the development of a project.
  • Expert advice: Providing technical subject expertise to support the development of the projects.
  • Championing: Promoting the prize across the Imperial community.

Please complete the form below if you are interested.  Alternatively, email or call us on: +44 (0)20 7594 2024.

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