Coleford businesswoman wins £50k innovation prize

By Jake Chown  
Thursday 2nd December 2021 7:00 am
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Local entrepreneur Fanzi Down says she hopes to inspire women of all ages to follow their dreams after winning a Women in Innovation Award from the Government.

Fanzi, who is the Commercial Director for Coleford-based firm DPS Designs, was recently honoured with the prestigious award, which includes a £50,000 grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The awards, which were launched in 2016 by Government agency Innovate UK, recognise the achievements of female "innovators" from across the country.

Fanzi, who arrived in the UK from China as a 16-year-old, received the award for her design work offering eco-friendly materials for use in the aerospace industry.

To mark the win, pupils at Trellech Primary School near Monmouth unveiled a special purple plaque in her honour.

The plaques are the awards body’s twist on the blue plaques found across the UK.

Innovate UK hopes the plaque will inspire pupils at the school to follow in Fanzi’s footsteps.

On the unveiling of the plaque, Fanzi said: "I’m so excited to be recognised in this way.

"Trellech Primary School is such a big part in setting my kids on their journey and I want to help the next generation realise their ambitions.

"It’s critical that young people have strong role models to follow and I’m humbled to be recognised in this way - I hope it helps other young women with dreams of starting their own business to have the confidence to give it a shot."

The awards programme was established to honour female innovators who develop "pioneering innovations to tackle pressing societal, environmental, and economic challenges".

Currently, just 14 per cent of blue plaques in the UK celebrate the achievements of women, which Innovate UK says highlights "a national issue of the under-representation of women in the media, the workplace and in the education system".

The agency says this results in a lack of relatable role models for children and young people.

The awards were launched to help boost the number of female entrepreneurs within UK businesses, which innovate UK says could deliver £180 billion to the economy.

Fanzi’s award is the second high-profile accolade that DPS has received in recent times, with the company having been presented with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Award for International Trade - the highest UK award for British businesses - earlier this month.

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