Women In Innovation Success Stories: Christina King, Tribosonics, Yorkshire & the Humber
Christina King’s innovation aims to drive emission reductions and energy savings through a unique sensing technology developed at Tribosonics. 23% of the world‘s energy is lost through tribological contact (the science of wear, friction, and lubrication). By addressing this friction and wear, there is the potential to save 1.4% of GDP and 8.7% of total energy consumption, and reduce CO2 emissions.
When Christina won Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award in March 2021, Tribosonics was in a growth phase, having secured £1.2m in private equity funds in the six months prior to the Innovation award. She said: “The company was scaling rapidly, and was developing partnerships with strategic global enterprises in targeted industrial sectors. The next step was to optimise the balance between nurturing these partnerships and developing a more generic ‘Sensing as a Service’ product for a wider group of customers.” Tribosonics has continued to grow and to optimise this balance; it has taken on additional private equity funds to build out the team further, to invest in more product development and to grow its already impressive IP portfolio.
One key milestone has been the soft launch of two products: polymerSENSE™ and boltSENSE™. polymerSENSE™ is a monitoring service for polymer processors and boltSENSE™ is a monitoring service for onshore and offshore wind turbine bolts. Both services offer the customer a weekly/monthly data service for a monthly fee.
Christina said: “A technology demonstrator for boltSENSE™ was developed as part of the Women in Innovation programme and this enabled us to build a solution that could be shown to our customers in real-time and gain invaluable feedback. This has led us to develop a bespoke dashboard for data insights and invest in the recruitment of a data expert to build on this growing area of the business.“
The company has also found opportunities within the hydro-power and nuclear industries and has spotted a new opportunity in blade manufacturing, where the sensing technology can be utilised to support a more efficient and sustainable process.
“Our business was on a scale up journey when we won the Women in Innovation Award. The programme has enabled us to scale at a much more rapid pace,” said Christina. “We have ten new hires, secured further private equity and we are on track to deliver over 100 monitoring systems, backed by service contracts, by the end of 2022,” she continued.
Christina’s ambition is to be a trailblazer in the servitization market. She said: “Our five-year target is to have scaled the business and developed the products and services that are attractive to a wider industrial market.
Personal growth and challenges
Being part of the Women in Innovation Programme has led to personal growth for Christina, who said: “My confidence has increased in our ability to deliver on our ambitious plans. I have worked in the innovation space for the last 16 years charting a path from my engineering foundations. I feel it is all now coming together as a female innovator in my own right.”
The challenges Christina has encountered include facing unconscious bias within the industry and entrepreneurial arena. She said: “As a female innovator, this unconscious bias fuels my determination to both succeed and be a visible role model, which takes courage and resilience.”
Wider support and advice
Winning the Women in Innovation award during a pandemic has been challenging as many of the events have been online. “However there were a couple of opportunities to meet in person and the cohort has been an amazing and supportive force! We champion each other and share in our successes and challenges. My Innovate UK EDGE Innovation Champion has also provided a much-needed sounding board and support, which I have found invaluable,” Christina said.
She continued: “I would strongly encourage women innovators to participate and dream big!”
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Women in Innovation
Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation programme was launched in 2016 to address underrepresentation of women in business innovation and to encourage more of them to apply to Innovate UK’s funding opportunities. Since its inception, the Programme has enabled brilliant women across the UK to fully achieve their vision for their businesses and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation.