Today saw the announcement of Innovate UK’s prestigious new Inclusive Innovation Award. One of the acclaimed recipients is former construction worker and founder of Wowment, Fran Boorman, who will receive a £50,000 grant from the UK Government’s innovation agency to develop game-changing Inclusive AI technology.
Despite showing huge potential for a career in the construction industry and being selected for two prestigious graduate schemes, Fran left her first 3 jobs in the first 3 years of her career. She recalls being filled with self-doubt and isolated in male-dominated workplaces.
That all changed with her 4th company where she was inducted into a mentoring programme. She went on to be recognised as the highest performer in that organisation and helped hundreds more women navigate the same career path.
A decade on and Fran is turning her experience of job failures into a mission to make sure others don’t get left behind. She has developed a multi-award-winning company, Goal 17 Ltd, that specialises in bringing together minorities with mentors from the working world. This Inclusive Innovation Award will be used to develop an exciting new mentoring platform, Wowment that integrates innovative AI to help enhance these mentoring relationships.
Fran explains, “We all know that mentoring makes a difference, but it is difficult to measure. Through the Inclusive Innovation Award, we are developing new AI technologies to help understand those relationships better. What makes this innovation game-changing is how we will use that understanding to empower our construction clients to engage more within their communities”.
The construction sector is coming under increasing pressure to demonstrate their community involvement when delivering projects. The Wowment platform will facilitate mentoring partnerships between construction workers and minority groups within local communities. The platform will then use AI to provide data and evidence to record the social impact construction workers are making.
Some of the UK's largest construction companies such as Balfour Beaty, Clancy Group and VP Plc have already supported these community-focused mentoring programmes through Goal 17 and Wowment. They have been able to use the social impact data created from their mentoring to win new business and secure contracts.
The Innovate UK assessor who recommended Fran for this award stated: "This is an extremely interesting proposition which certainly has the potential to be game-changing in its field. The applicant is highly motivated and passionate about the challenge and given her track record there is a good chance that this will be successful and deliver a return on investment for the taxpayer."
Fran concludes: “This is a win-win for communities and construction companies. Through using our platform, we will see more marginalised people transform their lives with the support of their mentors. The mentors themselves learn the skills to progress diverse talent within their organisations and open up new pools of talent. The cherry on the cake is that with this innovation we will then also be able to help these companies evidence the impact they are making to win more bids.”
As a result of winning this Award Fran has assembled a team that includes some of the UK's most exciting Data and AI scientists including a team from the National Innovation Centre for Data. All are committed to supporting her mission to drive better equality and opportunities in this and other sectors.
Read more press coverage:
Feature article in CIOB Press - https://ciobpeople.com/job-spotlight-fran-boorman-goal-17/