WE Innovate

2023 Showcase

WE Innovate champions women-led teams with entrepreneurial ideas.

The programme empowers participants through business coaching, masterclasses and networking. To celebrate the work of our 2023 cohort, we have created a showcase of their innovations.

Read their stories in their words below.

Thank you to all who participated in the WE Innovate 2023 Grand Final.

We hope you enjoyed the experience. If you weren’t able to join us on the night, you can still view the Grand Final online.


Welcome to Our Innovators

Meet our founders and explore their innovations and sources of inspiration.

01. Phase One
03. Finalists

01. Phase One


Athena Stirring Stick | Bastion | DeSolve Technology | Fig | iCloth | MetaCare | Little Chronicles | Playback | PreXY | Spatial | Stratum | TesTowel | Twisted | UrHealth


Cervical cancer is the the most common cancer in young women. Approximately 95% of cervical cancer cases are linked to infections with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV). Cervical screening  is invasive and its key instrument, the speculum, has remained largely unchanged for 200 years.

By rethinking the traditional sample collection process,  our teams have created more convenient and comfortable screening methods that ultimately give women greater control over their health.


TesTowel is the first women-centred HPV diagnostics service that provides non-invasive, low-cost and accurate self-sampling tests for young women to prevent cervical cancer. It relies on novel paper-based technology and the application of menstrual blood. It is as simple as using toilet paper, compatible with rapid processing and screening at low cost, helping customers track their cervix health condition, and relieving resources from health institutions.


Athena Stirring Stick

Helping to stamp out drink spiking. We want to ensure that social spaces are safe for everyone.

Athena Stirring Stick is a stir-stick-like device that quickly detects a spiked beverage and helps prevent instances of rape.

Working with pubs, bars, clubs and events we want to increase awareness surrounding drink spiking and provide a solution to detect it, in the hope that we can eradicate it from our spaces.⁣

DeSolve Technology

A software that matches drug carriers with drugs based on cancer properties, improving chemotherapy treatments’ safety and effectiveness.

“Our software evaluates and compares different drug carrier options, saving researchers’ time and providing faster results. The drug carrier’s properties, such as higher solubility, stability and targeting, increase efficiency while reducing side effects, enhancing the patient experience. Ultimately, our goal is to improve patient outcomes by ensuring the delivery of the right drugs in the most effective way possible.”


Empowering back pain self-management.


Playback is an app-enabled smartbelt system that measures and displays core muscle contractions during back exercises.

Lower back pain is a leading cause of chronic disability and pain affecting 1 in 3 people; and is the most expensive medical condition. Playback has created a wearable smart belt that helps motivate and guide exercise for people with lower back pain.


Helping you stay informed on waiting times in A&E.

We aim to reduce the burden on Accident and Emergency departments by distributing patients to alternative health services, based on severity. Our system has 3 components:
  • Algorithm for Initial quick triage
  • Virtual real-time queuing
  • Monitoring availability of different local healthcare services
Utilising our programme, patients can set the triage questionnaire into their native language, subtly flag for domestic abuse, ask for hydration and analgesia to maximise comfort, update triage nurses on their condition and track their progression in the queue. Finally, for patients with minor conditions, we propose local alternative services and aid them in their journey. By making A&E care more patient-centric, we improve satisfaction by empowering customers to navigate their own treatment.


The UK faces a severe STEM skills shortage costing £1.5bn annually. Despite this, in the UK we lose three times more girls than boys in STEM.

We believe there’s a simple intervention shown to increase the number of women retained in engineering by up to 30%. The answer lies in visuospatial skills, or one’s ability to imagine and manipulate objects in the mind. Girls engage less than boys in the hobbies that train them, and schools don’t teach them, but these abilities are foundational to success in STEM. Training students brings the girls up to speed, increases their interest in pursuing STEM, and improves all students’ STEM grades.

Spatial is a B2B, puzzle-based game that can train KS2 students’ visuospatial abilities in as little as ten-minute sessions. Research shows the use of hand gestures and physical objects enhances visuospatial learning, while digital platforms unlock real-time feedback, instructional personalisation, and automated assessment and tracking.

Spatial optimises learning by blending physical and digital elements. It uses the camera on students’ iPads to track a physical cube, which serves as the game controller and corresponds to shapes on the screen. Students solve increasingly challenging puzzles by rotating or moving the cube. This enables students to hold hundreds of activities in just one hand, tailored to their personal skill level.


With more than 200,000 tonnes of textile waste in a year, the UK is the fourth largest producer of textile waste in Europe. On average, each Briton throws away 3.1kg of textile waste every year, 1.7kg of which are disposed of in landfills. 

Twisted offers a hassle-free service that collects unwanted clothes and upcycles them into unique and creative lifestyle items such as floor mats, cushion covers and home decor items. We then resell the repurposed items via our shop. The previous owner will get our shop discount for giving us their clothes, and be informed of how their clothes are recycled as well as the impact they make on the environment by preserving the planet’s resources. 


Employing 1.6m workers, the care market is fragile. The key pain point for care providers is high staff turnover. One in every three care workers needs replacing annually, but providers face worker shortages and skills deficits. High staff turnover puts immense pressure on their ability to deliver good care to 10 million disabled and older people who use services daily. Workers cite low pay, poor support and feeling undervalued as reasons for leaving care jobs. Our research found they also lack practical skills and guidance to do their jobs well. With demand for care growing, care providers have financial incentives to break the cycle of ongoing recruitment and retain skilled staff.

We are using technology to tackle the social care workforce crisis. MetaCare is a digital tool that helps social care providers train and retain their staff. The tool functions as a daily worker’s companion, strengthening practical skills and knowledge, and reinforcing motivation to care. Built as a mobile app, the solution provides:

  • Customised support using an AI-powered search engine, providing trusted and practical information in response to a worker’s questions in real time
  • A digital mentor offering ongoing reassurance to the care worker and reinforcing caring values and motivation
  • A peer community with access to advice, learning programmes and career development
By valuing what they do, MetaCare enhances care workers’ job satisfaction, a factor highly associated with greater staff retention.


02. Phase Two


Bond | Clip Energy | Epicue | PapCup | PCOSENS 

CLIP Energy

The energy price cap has risen 178% in the past year. For millions, this is unaffordable as disposable income is falling at the fastest rate on record, with a 2023 forecast of -2.8%. Many people are trying to reduce energy use to save money, however existing devices like smart-meters don’t always show which devices are consuming energy, and they create pain-points due to their installation process.

CLIP breaks down your energy usage by appliance, so you can pinpoint exactly what is contributing to your bills. In addition, it provides personalised insights which advise on simple steps you can take to reduce your bills. This information is present in an empowering manner, informed by design psychology, to maximise behavioural change while mitigating bill anxiety. CLIP works by detecting changes in the magnetic field around the household mains wire and extracting unique appliance signals using cloud-based machine learning. We offer CLIP on a subscription, making it low risk and affordable for a wide-range of users, who’ll save an estimated net average of £200 per year with CLIP.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is chronic hormonal condition that affects 1 in 10 women in the UK, causing irregular or no periods, weight gain, excess body hair and infertility. Patients can feel unsupported by the healthcare system due to a lack of treatment options and follow-up care.

Our solution is a wearable sensor which continuously tracks the concentration of female sex hormones specific to PCOS in real-time. The data is displayed on a mobile app which maps your menstrual cycle based on your hormone concentrations, allowing the user to track their condition in response to medication or lifestyle changes, as well as predict ovulation based on personalised hormonal tracking. In addition, hormonal data can be collected prior to a doctor’s consultation, allowing more informed decisions to be made about the patient’s treatment plan. Tracking will allow patients to feel more informed and in control of their PCOS, with greater confidence that will receive the care they need without having to wait months for a follow-up.

03. Finalists


aiKNIT | Aloe Health | Carbon Cell | Guerilla | Matrix

The market for tailor-made adaptive wearable devices is huge, and expected to grow by 9.8% (CAGR) until 2028.

aiKNIT is a programmable textile device that facilitates faster and more effective healing of musculoskeletal conditions and blurs the boundaries between a medical device and a fashion garment.

aiKNIT is targeting the 500 million people worldwide who suffer with arthritis conditions and wear pain relief devices that are uncomfortable, uniform in functionality and visually unappealing. Their adaptive tailor-made glove provides support and compression whilst allowing freedom of movement in non-affected areas.

aiKNIT also took part in the sixh cohort of the MedTech SuperConnector.

Aloe Health

1 in 5 women, 1 in 10 partners and LGBTQ+ parents have mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth. Anxiety and depression are the most common. 50% of women who have depression during this period are not detected or given support as they do not meet specific criteria. Under-detection of mental health issues results in significant personal and societal costs: research suggests that increasing access to treatment for common maternal mental health problems could have a net benefit of half a billion pounds to the NHS over ten years.

Aloe Health is a digital platform that reduces systemic, societal and individual barriers to parents recognising mental health problems and accessing support.

“Using our system, parents can self-assess and monitor their mental and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and after birth. We provide a personalised care plan to help parents understand their emotional state, providing clarity, reassurance and actionable recommendations to improve their wellbeing.

The report can be shared with family and friends, allowing for open discussions surrounding mental health to take place, helping parents to interpret their experience more clearly and normalising these issues to help break down stigma. Connection to a specialist would also be discussed at this point.”


Widely used in gynaecology, the speculum has not changed as an instrument since the Roman era. Matrix is a 21st century replacement for the speculum, designed for patient comfort and self-use in a clinical setting.

Given that 30% of eligible individuals did not attend their cervical smear appointments (42% of whom cited embarrassment as a cause), Matrix is well-placed to reduce preventable disease by improving patient attendance and deliver savings on the costs of missed appointments to the NHS. 

The device has been designed with the patient experience and physiological understanding of the female body front of mind. It is digitally-enabled, AI-supported and designed for self use, so that patients can completely control the experience in their own time and space. It transmits visual data for real-time assessment in a unique digital archive that can be used inform treatment and further research.

A Drainage System that Reduces Pollution in Cities

30% of all ocean pollution is caused by surface water runoff from cities. Rainwater washes the debris of human activity from our built environment and roads into our drains. This runoff is a toxic mix of pollutants (from road, tyre and brake wear, such as microplastics, hydrocarbons and heavy metals) and is discharged into water bodies untreated. In London alone, 2 billion kilograms of contaminants are leached into our water bodies every year, damaging aquatic ecosystems and entering the human food chain. Addressing this problem at scale by infrastructural overhaul would be prohibitively expensive and disruptive, so there is a need for a retrofittable solution that intercepts pollutants before they enter our water systems.


Guerilla is modular and scalable device that can be installed into roadside drains to extract surface water pollutants. Using a gravity based system with no moving parts or energy requirements, it is capable of throughputs matching 1.5 times that of the heaviest rain events for London while achieving 98% efficiency.

Most of the pollution present in runoff is attached to total suspended solids (TSS)  at the source. By separating the TSS from the stormwater near the first point entry into the drainage system, we prevent them from diffusing into the waste-water network, thus massively reducing costs of treatment while integrating with the current maintenance regime.”

Guerilla won the Environmental award in the 2023 Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

Carbon Cell


By 2024, the world is expected to produce enough expanded polystyrene foam to fill 2.5 million semi trucks annually. This and other polymer-based foams are manufactured using oil (10,000 barrels in 2018), contributing to global carbon emissions. Widely used in insulation, packaging, marine floatation and other products, these materials emit gases that are harmful to human health and are difficult to recycle. Styrofoam waste fills up to 30% of global landfills and can take more than 500 years to break down, remaining in the environment as toxic waste.


Our solution is Carbon Cell, an expanded foam that reduces the need for conventional, fossil fuel-based foams while enabling carbon sequestration.

Carbon Cell is made from biochar, a lightweight, porous fully biodegradable material that sequesters carbon and can be produced from waste stream products that would otherwise be burned or decomposed, such as potato peel and discarded textiles. This provides a sustainable bio-foam suitable for many popular applications such as thermal packaging, industrial horticulture and building insulation. Because it is biodegradable and non-toxic, it can be reintegrated into the biosphere at end of life. 

Our WE Innovate Journey:

“Since beginning WE Innovate we have significantly developed our go-to-market approach, prioritising customer segments where we are likely to more rapidly achieve proof of concept and our first sale. We have sharpened our understanding of our core market for year one, keeping in mind our broader vision for other applications of our material. We have also put our work into practice as we tell our story in other applications for non-equity funding. This has so far yielded promising results, with our project reaching the finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition and being granted a place in the Greenhouse Accelerator programme for climate tech startups.”

Get Inspired

WE Innovate is a fully-funded university programme championing women-led startup teams. It explores the threads connecting entrepreneurship, the female founder experience and STEM subjects.

Although applications for the 2023 programme are now closed, you can still get support with your idea or venture through booking an Idea Surgery and attending our events.

Hear our finalists pitch live at the WE Innovate Grand Final!

Thursday 22 June 2023, 18:00 – 21:00.
Secure your seat at the 2023 Grand Final. Hurry, tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis!
Sign up here

In Their Own Words

“As a woman with degrees in physics and engineering, discovering that a gap in STEM education pushes girls out felt like a gut punch.

My passion shaped my choice to leave my project management position at a consulting firm to pursue design and human-centred invention. In addition to taking part in WE Innovate, I have won two scholarships for Spatial: from Pokemon and the Royal Commission for 1851 and am also a Mayor’s Entrepreneurial Prize finalist.
Being a woman STEM entrepreneur has spurred me to build a network of experts in relevant fields to bring my product to life.”

Steph Jump