From VR and AR games to embedded software and innovations in health technology, Cornwall’s tech sector is buzzing – and women are behind many of the developments.
As we’re exhibiting at the UK’s Women in Technology conference, we’d like to shine a light on 20 women whose ideas, initiatives and drive are helping to make Cornwall one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the UK.
Read about their contributions, their achievements, and why they think Cornwall is such a special place to work.
Dr Amber Griffiths
Director and Cofounder, FoAM Kernow
As cofounder of the Cornwall studio of transdisciplinary research organisation FoAM, Amber works across the arts, scientific research, agriculture and horticulture, marine biology, education, electronics and robotics. Her aim is always to show that a specialised, capitalist and hierarchical society isn’t our only option. FoAM is an ongoing experiment in alternative models: it’s a non-profit, makes everything open source, pays everyone equally and avoids carbon-intensive travel.
Your favourite recent project? Our Sonic Kayak uses software and sensors to sonify the underwater environment to the paddler in real time. You hear underwater sounds through a hydrophone and temperature changes through changing sound pitch. It’s a scientific instrument as well as a musical one: the data allows us to create fine-scale maps of underwater noise pollution and temperature.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? There’s space here for people to try new things. We can also ground our work in real problems, working with farmers, politicians and the broader community. It’s almost the opposite to Silicon Valley, which is more about selling people things they don’t need, or surveillance capitalism.
Follow Amber on Twitter at @AmberFirefly, and read more about FoAM at https://fo.am/studios/kernow/
Managing Partner, Visceral Business and Lead for the Open Data Institute in Cornwall
Anne focuses on how ecosystems can thrive and be sustained in the networked age. Her work helps people transition to being digital by design, making a practical and lasting difference to public sector, commercial, and not-for-profit organisations by developing their digital business modelling capabilities and Cornwall’s social and economic potential.
Your favourite recent project? Working with Cornwall Council on its digital vision and data framework. We’re developing a Master Data Management strategy to ensure well-governed and efficient use and re-use of data, and a streamlined, digitally-informed and responsive ‘service first’ culture.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? We have an outstandingly beautiful environment here and supporting that with the digital acumen to innovate and provide first class products and services makes this a very special place to be.
Follow Anne on Twitter at @VisceralBiz and @ODICornwall
Cofounder and Director, Software Cornwall
Agile coach and author of Being Agile, Belinda is the driving force behind Software Cornwall, a community group set up to develop a talent pipeline for Cornwall’s burgeoning tech industry – and to raise awareness of the work being done in the sector across the county. Software Cornwall organises many events, meetups and hackathons: from the Tech Connect conference to the Mission to Mars tech jams for students interested in a software career.
Your favourite recent project? Software Cornwall recently raised over £15,000 through a crowdfunding initiative to fund an ongoing education outreach programme that in 2018 reached 13,700 students across Cornwall.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? It’s gone from having almost no tech companies or career pathways into technology to having a thriving and world class tech community. The county now boasts major players from Goonhilly’s deep space comms and the new Spaceport, to innovations in eHealth, agritech, marine tech, games, and more.
Follow Belinda on Twitter at @belindawaldock and Software Cornwall at @SwCornwall
Executive Director, Bluefruit
Caitlin has had a huge impact at Bluefruit since she joined the board of the fast-growing embedded software development business. The team has grown by more than 50% in the last year to over 60 people, and revenue has tripled over the past 18 months – due in part to a spike in the company’s work in the Medical Devices space.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? I’ve been working with other members of our team to push for non-biased recruitment, and it’s had a positive impact on diversity across Bluefruit. I’ve also been reaching out to other women in tech and engineering around Cornwall, from Goonhilly to Watson Marlow, talking about how we can inspire more women and girls to think about a STEM career.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? The tech sector is getting bigger and broader, with aerospace and marinetech alongside fintech and biopharmaceutical, and AI startups alongside established engineering firms. It’s exciting and inspiring and everyone seems driven to innovate. We might be small compared to other places, but we pack a big punch and we’re growing fast.
Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @CaitlinKrum
Founder and Lead Cartographer, Clear Mapping Co
Caroline is on a mission to enable tech and non-tech people in Cornwall to understand the value of spatial data. She’s collaborated with Data Science Cornwall to deliver a free workshop on how tech people can use open source GIS software to enhance their offering. She’s also taught students at the University of Exeter, as part of the Summer School programme, the benefits of being able to use QGIS as well as the data management processes that make it much easier to achieve and maintain.
Your favourite recent project? We delivered a QGIS course for land-managers, hosted by Duchy College. The aim is to upskill people in the rural economy to use open GIS software with their own spatial data to improve planning, productivity and profit – especially in light of the subsidy change from Single Farm Payment to Public Funding for Public Goods, and a more sustainable and integrated model of land-management.
What’s great about bring in Cornwall? As a company, we delight in adapting to changing circumstances and helping organisations to become more resilient. By enabling those that do the land-management to access the tools they need to meet their obligations, we all move closer to meeting our Sustainable Development Goals.
Follow Caroline on Twitter at @clearmapping
Head of Service Delivery, Everest Media
Ellen joined Everest Media in 2018, bringing a 10-year record of working in strategy, tech and digital communications with clients like No. 10 Downing Street, NATO, EY, British Airways and LOCOG. She oversees Everest’s portfolio of project deliveries as well as its developers, digital strategists, web ops, copywriters, technical leads, SEO performance team and social delivery teams.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? My appointment created a 50/50 gender ratio on the Senior Management team, bringing a balance and drive that’s exciting to be part of. Within my team, and wider afield, I’m passionate about mentoring female talent, enabling skills, confidence and knowledge-sharing to grow the next phase of women in leadership positions within the tech industry.
What’s great about the tech sector in Cornwall? There are fantastic opportunities in Cornwall, and we need to ensure that young (especially female) talent has access to these opportunities post grad/college and that they thrive within our tech space, rather than seeking roles further afield.
Connect with Ellen on LinkedIn
Full Stack Developer, Headforwards
Emma has carved out a niche at Pool-based outsource software developer Headforwards, working with a team that takes on clients who have an idea for a small-scale development project. It’s a way for Cornwall-based businesses to get world-class software development services on their doorstep, which helps them to grow their tech offering and create more jobs in Cornwall.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? As part of a team of two, I was responsible for a multinational mining company deciding to move support of their production systems to Headforwards. It will hopefully lead to the creation of another team, ultimately creating more jobs and opportunities in Cornwall.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? It’s more relaxed, with an emphasis on work/life balance. While Headforwards is a large player in the industry here, there are many other tech companies, lots of meetups and a general feeling that something exciting is happening. It’s great to be part of it.
Connect with Emma on LinkedIn
CEO, Cornwall Museums Partnership
Emmie draws on Cornwall’s strengths in cultural heritage and tech expertise to tell fantastic stories to new audiences in unique and compelling ways. As CEO of the Cornwall Museums Partnership, she’s driving a project to create five new immersive experiences in coastal towns across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, working with Falmouth University and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Your favourite recent project? We’re developing a Mixed Reality escape room with Telegraph Museum Porthcurno. It will teleport people back to WW2, to experience real-life challenges that engineers working on site were dealing with when Porthcurno was at the heart of a global communication network. It’s a great example of how immersive technology can bring Cornwall’s stories to life.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? Cornwall has always been a place for innovators and disruptors – there is something about life on the edge that helps us to think differently. The blend of creativity and technical innovation makes the tech sector in Cornwall particularly exciting.
Follow Emmie on Twitter at @emmiekell and Cornwall Museums Partnership at @cornwallmp
Founder and CEO, Radix
Fiona has grown Radix to be one of the tech industry’s biggest specialist writing agencies. With a team of 11 writers and four account managers based in Penryn’s Jubilee Warehouse, Radix writes marketing content for B2B technology brands all over the world: from Microsoft, Oracle and Marketo in the United States, to O2 and Sage in the UK and Megaport in Australia.
Your favourite recent project? I’ve been working this year on a series of blogs and ebooks for Slack – a huge privilege for me as Slack is a tech company that really values the art of good writing.
What’s great about the tech sector in Cornwall? It’s a very friendly scene, very open and collaborative. It doesn’t have the swagger of other tech hubs. There’s lots happening in fintech, space, e-health and AI, but at the same time there’s a lot of focus on ethics, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
Connect with Fiona on LinkedIn and follow Radix on Twitter at @radixcom
Apprentice Software Developer, Bluefruit
Jordan is a shining example of how, when it comes to technology, ‘girls can’. Discovering at 16 years old that she loved coding, she found an apprenticeship at embedded software specialists Bluefruit with the help of Software Cornwall. Today, she mentors students at tech jam events like Software Cornwall’s Mission To Mars, helping to encourage more women into the profession.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? In 2018 I won the Cornwall Live EDGE award for ‘Digital Rising Star’ – the only woman to be nominated for the award.
What’s great about the tech sector in Cornwall? The tech sector is rapidly changing every day with new products and technologies being developed. There are so many different opportunities and technologies in Cornwall with plenty of different companies offering different exciting things!
Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanTheCoder and read about Bluefruit’s job opportunities at https://www.bluefruit.co.uk/careers/current-software-jobs/
Director and Head of Design Services, Made Open
Kathryn believes digital technology has the power to accelerate positive social change. For 12 years, she’s been helping charities, public sector organisations and businesses design digital services that tackle social challenges. With the Made Open team, she has built a fully configurable social networking platform suitable for any organisation who wants to build a movement that is a force for good. It’s been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2019 Tech 4 Good awards.
Your favourite recent project? I’m working with Age UK Cornwall and health partners on the creation of The Cornwall Link, an online community directory that connects people with support services and activities available in their community.
What’s great about the tech sector in Cornwall? Building a successful ‘tech for good’ product or service is a complex process. It takes a strong and unwavering focus to make it sustainable and scalable, so it’s really great to see more organisations investing in new technologies. This is especially evident in the Health and Social care sectors where funds like EPIC have been set up specifically to support small businesses who are developing innovative technology products.
Follow Kathryn on Twitter at @kathrynwoolf and Made Open at @madeopenltd
Cofounder and Creative Director, Triangular Pixels and Member, BGI Advisory Board
Triangular Pixels are leading the way in VR and video games for Cornwall. As the studio’s cofounder and creative director, Katie’s focus is on creating innovative new IP for B2C, working with local and international companies and artists. Triangular Pixels shares its knowledge with the local business community and universities, helping to develop a centre of excellence for digital games in Cornwall.
Your favourite recent project? Our biggest success to date has been with Unseen Diplomacy, a VR assault course spy game available worldwide for the HTC Vive. The game has won us multiple awards including Best New Studio at the Develop awards and a BAFTA nomination for Innovation.
What’s great about the tech sector in Cornwall? Falmouth University have modern courses which bring new talent to the area, seeding businesses with graduates who have up-to-date knowledge, and supporting new businesses in the area who can keep that talent in Cornwall.
Follow Katie on Twitter at @Katie_TriPixels and Triangular Pixels at @TriangularPixel
Chief Operating Officer, Satellite Applications Catapult
Lucy helps UK enterprises to understand and exploit the potential of space and satellites. As General Manager of Avanti Communications, she was involved in building the new satellite operation centre at Goonhilly Earth Station, bringing the power of satellite data and applications to Cornish industries like agriculture, smart farming, mining, fisheries, tourism and construction.
Your favourite recent project? We led a project with Cornish Lithium to explore whether satellites can help to find lithium in water deep below Cornwall’s surface. By identifying features in vegetation, minerals and geology, we found areas with a high probability of lithium deposits, capturing international attention and featuring in the Government’s ‘Britain is Great’ campaign.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? This is a great time for Cornwall and its young people to develop careers in pretty much any sector, using cutting-edge science, technology and data from space. These exciting opportunities will benefit greatly from the leading-edge regional connectivity and creativity to grow productivity for the benefit of our region, economy and population.
Follow Lucy on Twitter at @MsLucyEdge
Marketing Manager, MUTU System and Organiser, Google Women Techmakers South West
Lyssa recently joined the team at MUTU System, an e-health company specialising in postnatal health and fitness. Her mission is to use technology to help women gain confidence in their bodies and get strong enough to deal with everything motherhood entails – something she finds extremely rewarding.
Your favourite recent project? Organising the Google Women Techmakers South West conference was a career highlight for me. Over the years I’ve met a lot of people in the local tech sector, but this event brought in so many new women who don’t normally attend the meetups and conferences. Running a female-focused event definitely had a positive impact on attendees.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? Cornwall has always been a hub for engineering, but we’ve now moved towards digital engineering. We have such a diverse range of sectors located here – aerotech, agritech, e-health, fintech – and they’re exchanging knowledge and ideas throughout the community in a way I think is truly unique to Cornwall.
Follow Lyssa on Twitter at @LyssaCrump and MUTU System at @mutusystem
A self-taught developer with a background of homelessness and social care, Mimi’s aim is to help others from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop professional skills and forge rewarding careers in Cornwall. As the cofounder of Elevate, she will lead a programme to help talented young people from socially excluded backgrounds to access careers in accountancy, technology and law.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? Despite not having a laptop, I’ve learned two programming languages by making handwritten notes. I’m now the sole VBA user at work and I have SQL at a functioning level. I also helped to organise last year’s Women Techmakers South West conference, which over 100 women attended.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? The tech sector is growing rapidly and is providing opportunities for those who were previously socially excluded.
Follow Mimi on Twitter at @mimibeard98
Head of Engagement, Spaceport Cornwall
Melissa has spent the last five years growing the commercial space sector in Cornwall, identifying new space technologies that can benefit from existing assets in the county. Her efforts have led to Cornwall securing the first horizontal launch spaceport – and operator Virgin Orbit – at Cornwall Airport Newquay, enabling extensive launch, supply chain and satellite application activities.
Your favourite recent project? I helped to raise up to £20m of public and private funding to secure Virgin Orbit’s $1bn horizontal launch technology in Cornwall. I’m incredibly proud to be delivering this game-changing technology into Cornwall, inspiring generations of children and adults.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? We’re on the cusp of a new technological revolution in space, mining, and renewable energy, building on its industrial heritage by enabling existing assets, a pioneering spirit and unique environment. It is an exceptional time to be in this county.
Connect with Melissa on LinkedIn and follow Spaceport Cornwall on Twitter at @SpaceCornwall
Developer, Elixel, and Co-organiser, Cornwall Geeks and Women Techmakers South West
A developer for Plymouth-based digital agency Elixel by day, Natalia was one of the cofounders of Cornwall Geeks, the first developer-oriented meetup in the county. Over the past five years it’s become a vibrant community for programmers, designers, and techies in general. Monthly meet ups give people a chance to network and share achievements as well as find employment.
Your favourite recent project? In 2018 I co-organised Women Techmakers South West; an inclusive event for women in tech, and the first ever WTM event in the south-west. We’re continuing to build a community that helps to empower women in tech. As well as co-organising, I also gave a presentation about the importance of accessibility in web design, development and copy.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? A lot of events and communities are being set up in the area, including coding clubs and hackathons for new and upcoming programmers.
Follow Natalia on Twitter at @lil_natw
Project Officer, EPIC eHealth
As project officer for Creative England’s EPIC project, Penny has allocated innovation grants to 35 healthtech businesses in Cornwall. That’s lowered the risk involved in developing products and services that lessen the burden on the NHS and improve the lives of people who use them. EPIC is about to showcase 12 of those innovations around the UK to show what Cornwall is capable of.
A recent achievement you’re proud of? My favourite thing about EPIC is seeing the benefits it brings. One client recently told me it enabled them to accelerate their idea: they’d always wanted to do it, but the funding helped them get the project off the ground and see it succeed in months rather than years.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? A strong tech ecosystem is developing, with more businesses collaborating, broadening their horizons and exploring markets they’d never thought of working in, realising how they can apply their influence and continue growing their business.
Follow Penny on Twitter at @EPIC_Penny
With her startup AvatarJo, Sarah aims to bring humanity into the world of technology. AvatarJo provides actors via live video call for role-play training, enabling people to practise any life, family, business or workplace conversation – and providing an opportunity to learn and reflect on how communication with others affects our lives, goals, and successes.
Your favourite recent project? Our work in the medical sector is set to revolutionise not just GP training but also GPs’ approach to consultation skills. With 300 million GP consultations per year in the UK, our expertise, knowledge and bespoke services will allow those most open to change to make huge inroads into adopting small changes that will save the NHS millions of pounds per year.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? I’m excited about finding people to play and experiment with. Cornwall is an easy place to network and the growing tech community will allow us to collaborate on some pretty revolutionary new ideas. Our door is always open for collaborations!
Read more about AvatarJo at www.avatarjo.co.uk
Professor Tanya Krzywinska
Director, Games Academy and Chair of Digital Economy, Falmouth University
Tanya’s focus is on developing digital games skills for an undergraduate and postgraduate community to support the Cornish digital economy: from game design and 3D modelling to computing and augmented reality. Her department is currently developing innovative AR and VR applications for use in Cornwall’s museums, tourism and heritage industries.
Your favourite recent project? Our research team has been using emergent holographic, Augmented Reality technology that interacts with real objects to give visitors to the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum a tangible sense of the pioneering communications work there and what it was like to be working at the museum during the height of World War II.
What’s great about being in Cornwall? Cornish companies and startups are demonstrating increasingly creative uses of emergent tech and we’re gaining a reputation nationally for novel uses of emergent technology.
Read more about Tanya’s work at www.falmouth.ac.uk/games
To find out more about opportunities within Cornwall’s tech sector, get in touch.
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