Four inspirational female company founders have been recognised for their innovative businesses in a major competition.

The AccelerateHER Awards winners, spanning the specific categories of technology, environment, culture and health, were unveiled at a finals event held at the new Barclays campus in the heart of Glasgow.

The winner in the technology category, supported by CodeBase, was Stella Smith, founder of Pirkx, an online platform which increases accessibility to vital wellbeing benefits. Taking the award in the environment category was Beena Sharma, founder of Carbon Capture Utilisation International (CCU). The culture winner was Katherine Gunderson of Grand Bequest, a business focused on getting empty buildings back into use, while the health category was won by Caroline Laurenson of TL Tech.

Last month, Penelope Carruthers of waterwheel developer Carruthers Renewables was announced as this year’s “rising star”. Now in their eighth year, the AccelerateHER Awards provide a springboard to growth for participants by opening doors to new opportunities and market-building connections through the organisation’s global network. The awards, supported by the Scottish Government, Barclays Eagle Labs and Scottish Enterprise, are open to women who are founders or co-founders of companies which are Scottish-based or actively trading in Scotland.

Stella Smith, founder of Pirkx; Beena Sharma, founder of Carbon Capture Utilisation International; Katherine Gunderson, founder of Grand Bequest; Caroline Laurenson, founder of TL Tech. Picture: Sandy Young Photography

Elizabeth Pirrie, chief executive of AccelerateHER, said: “Over these last eight years, we are proud to have supported hundreds of female-led companies across Scotland and beyond connecting them to our global network of angel investors, commercial advisers, and other successful business people. During that period, the programme has helped secure more than £50 million in external investment.”