Women In Innovation Success Stories: Naomi McGregor, Movetru, Northern Ireland
Supporting athletes with wearable rehabilitation technology
At the age of 14, after studying ballet for almost a decade, Naomi McGregor’s hopes of becoming a professional dancer were dashed when she injured her knee. It took three years and eight specialists to diagnose the condition, by which time it was too late to resume the pursuit of her original dreams.
Instead, Naomi turned to academic study and, while writing the dissertation for her masters in Product Design Engineering, she came up with the concept that would become Movetru. Combining machine learning with technical textiles, she designed a form of wearable technology that can identify injuries ahead of time, focusing on elite sports and lower body injuries.
Noami set up her startup in July 2020 and had soon managed to secure £155,000 in grant funding and competition wins. But as a young solo female founder, she knew she would need support on her journey. When she applied for Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award, she was still Movetru’s only full time employee and the company was pre-revenue.
Growing opportunities and dreams
The financial aspect of the Women in Innovation Programme was essential in allowing Naomi to grow her team and create a budget for hardware development. Today, the business has three full time and two part time employees, and they’re actively hiring two more.
They managed to raise £70,000 in external investment, and they’ve also grown their grant and competition funding to £555,000. Most importantly, they have reached the point where they are preparing to enter the market in the summer of 2023.
Naomi’s dreams have grown too, and she hopes that within the next five years she will be able to not only expand the team further but grow the business across the UK and US in order to change the physiotherapy landscape everywhere.
“I’ve grown in confidence from receiving such a prestigious award,” she says. “As a young female founder, this exposure can transform my credibility. With only 0.9% of Innovate UK funding going to Northern Ireland, it shows a huge level of project development.”
Becoming a role model and gaining credibility
Finding a community dedicated to women in innovation has also given Naomi a huge boost, and she now sees herself as “a role model for the next generation of engineers and change makers”.
“As a female engineer, I have been told directly that I needed a male to succeed with the technical development,” she says.
“Women in innovation and business have to be more organised than their counterparts to be deemed credible. So having awards that ‘vet’ the innovation and engineering are an incredible step forward.”