Stella Smith, Beena Sharma, Katherine Gunderson, Caroline Laurenson

Four aspiring female company founders have been recognised for their innovative businesses as winners of the AccelerateHER Awards 2023.

The winners, from the awards’ four specific categories of Technology; Environment; Culture; and Health, were unveiled at the finals event at the new Barclays campus in Glasgow.

Technology: Stella Smith, founder of pirkx, an online platform which increases accessibility to vital wellbeing benefits.

Environment: Beena Sharma, founder of Carbon Capture Utilisation International (CCU). Her company’s technology captures CO2 from industrial emissions, purifies it and transforms it into other revenue generating resources.

Culture: Katherine Gunderson of Grand Bequest, a BCorp certified business focused on getting empty buildings back into use.

Health: Caroline Laurenson of TL Tech. Her company’s mission is to empower people regardless of age, technical ability or finances to adopt digital solutions and transform their lives by creating a unique caring and entertaining home environment.

Last month, Penelope Carruthers of patented waterwheel developers Carruthers Renewables was announced as this year’s Rising Star. The category recognises a female founder with a great early-stage business idea.

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.

Award winners benefit from a prize package that is potentially worth thousands of pounds and includes a six-month mentoring programme from Investing Women Angels, Scotland’s first all-female business angel group.

Elizabeth Pirrie, CEO 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 AccelerateHER programme has helped secure more than £50 million in external investment for female-founded companies.”