Women In Innovation Success Stories: Nimrah Munir, QV Bioelectronics, North West England
Revolutionising Brain Cancer Treatment Technology
As the Principal Biomaterials Scientist at QV Bioelectronics, Nimrah Munir is part of a team developing a revolutionary new way to treat brain cancer. Their first product, GRACE (Glioma Resection Advanced Cavity Electric field therapy), is an innovative implant that delivers electrical field therapy directly to the tumour area.
When Nimrah joined Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Programme, QV were still at an early stage of development and had just hired their fourth and fifth employees. The main core of their technology, the gel electrode, was being optimised and they were getting ready to make the shift from scientific development to commercial and clinical activities.
Winning the Award gave Nimrah the finance and support she needed to hit some key milestones, developing the business and the team as well as the gel electrodes themselves. They are now moving into a bigger and better-equipped lab facility, planning the manufacturing process for the gel electrode in preparation for pre-clinical trials, and hiring 4 more full-time employees to help accelerate the next stages of development and manufacturing.
Becoming a role model for women and ethnic minorities
But it wasn’t just the business that was shifting from clinical to commercial. Nimrah herself needed to make the transition too, from lab scientist to commercial leader.
“Having a PhD in Bioengineering has helped me successfully lead the development of this electrode technology,” she says. “However, as we move from lab to clinic, the next steps are related to business and management.”
“This grant has helped me fill the skill gap needed to transition the device development confidently, providing an opportunity to develop my wider skill set as well as attributes and knowledge with a commercial focus, an area for which I had limited experience before the Award.”
As a senior decision maker at a multi-million-pound valued start-up developing groundbreaking technology, Nimrah now sees herself as being in an ideal position to act as a role model, especially in championing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She credits her Innovate UK EDGE Innovation & Growth Specialist, Giulia Sirigu, with providing “invaluable” help in developing her personal brand as a confident and relatable role model to inspire the next generation of innovators.
“I have already started to see the impact of this,” she says. “Several outstanding women innovators from the same ethnic minority as myself have got in touch with me and are now also applying for the Women in Innovation Award. I’m proud to be an agent for change in addressing the long-standing dire representation of women and ethnic minorities in the most innovative industries in the UK.”
What have you got to lose?
To add to their support of the next generation of innovators, QV Bioelectronics recently launched an internship programme to provide opportunities for women or ethnic minority university students, giving them essential insight and experience to confidently apply for roles in this field.
“Our first intern has successfully completed the programme and is now undertaking an MRes in Cancer Sciences at Imperial College London,” says Nimrah. “We have the intention to hire at least two more in 2023. Through the Award we have been able to set the foundations for this internship programme that we plan to continue to run for the next few years.”
Her words of advice to anyone thinking about applying for similar Innovate UK funding opportunities are simple: what is there to lose?
“Overcoming the feeling of ‘I am not good enough’ and starting the application is the biggest hurdle, don’t let this make you miss this invaluable opportunity,” she says.