Women In Innovation Success Stories: Anna Vartapetiance, Securium LTD, South East England
Boosting online safety with innovative cybersecurity solutions
When Covid-19 hit in 2020, Dr Anna Vartapetiance was travelling outside the UK. Unable to fly home, she was stuck for over four months, with her company Securium’s only long-term contract cancelled due to the pandemic. And then she got the news that she’d been selected for Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Programme. “That gave us hope and the encouragement to work harder to make everything else happen,” she says. “Then the contracts started coming in again. Winning the Award was like a stamp of approval that led to the opening of various doors for us.”
Anna’s business, Securium, is a cyber intelligence company providing online safety technologies to protect businesses and vulnerable individuals online. As Anna and her team began the Programme, they had two key business goals: to advance the AI capabilities of their products and build more commercial conversations.
For Anna, there was a third goal – personal growth. “Society is quick to judge, assume and tell you all the things you are not doing right, especially if you are a woman in tech,” she says. “But it was important for me to be part of the Programme to learn more about self-growth, build resilience, and to connect with a great network of like-minded individuals.”
Project progress and big wins
Over their time on the Programme, Securium have developed pilots for both of their products, and their solutions are now available on the ‘AI for Safer Children Initiative’ (#AI4SC) Global Hub, helping law enforcements investigate child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE).
They’ve also continued collecting accolades, winning Innovate UK EDGE’s Global Business Innovation Programme with Canada: Artificial Intelligence as well as being part of a UK delegation that visited Canada to build collaborations. Anna herself was named in Surrey’s 40 under 40 Business Awards, and her business journey featured in South East Business magazine.
Off the back of this success and the opportunities and the momentum created by it, the team is aiming to enter the North American market, as well as raise investment to scale up and serve such a huge market.
Personal development and finding a tribe
At a personal level, Anna found that the Programme helped her understand that there is power in representation – in sharing her story and challenges as a dyslexic woman tech entrepreneur of mixed backgrounds.
She says: “Previously I would say ‘Who would be interested in my story?’ but now I know that someone might hear it and say ‘If she can, I can too’.”
The best part, she adds, has been finding her ‘tribe’ – a group of women she can share her problems with or celebrate wins, with no fear of judgement or need to prove herself as equal or good enough.
With their support, Securium has had fresh impetus to “create more paths and knock on more doors”, as Anna says. And the impact will last long beyond the end of the Programme.
“I’m still me but more outspoken regarding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion,” she says. “Previously I would say ‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a chair’. Now, not only will I take my chair but I will also point out the lack of a chair at the table so others will notice and hopefully change.”