Women In Innovation Success Stories: Dr Emma Fieldhouse, Future We Want, East Midlands
When Dr Emma Fieldhouse, founder of her business Future we Want, won Innovate UK‘s Women in Innovation Award back in March 2021, creating a digital version of her carbon footprint educational games was still a dream and she was working full time as a sustainability consultant. The award funding has allowed her to pivot the business and realise that dream.
Emma was able to employ Sam, a Lead Game Developer, who was critical in progressing the digital version. She said all the breakthrough moments would have been impossible without Sam, who has helped develop the game to the beta testing stage.
Progress has been swift. In July, they received accreditation from the Carbon Literacy Trust for their Carbon Literacy for Educators courses and by October, they had launched their new website, www.bananasgame.co.uk and started to sell their updated physical games, (included a new smaller version perfected for schools and charities). Come November, the games were showcased on the UKRI stand at the COP26 climate conference event in Glasgow, where hundreds of beta testers were signed up. Emma said, “It was an amazing and invigorating experience talking to people from all over the world about the games and what they thought of them so we could better understand our broad customer needs.”
The team will soon be bolstered with two Kickstarts who will help with social media, marketing and communications. Over the next five years, they will look to expand the team further and sell games globally, with translations into multiple languages. Thanks to COP26, Future We Want already has a presence in France, Germany and Nigeria.
Speaking about her personal growth since joining the programme, Emma says, “I have learnt business skills and knowledge and massively expanded my network. I have also developed the right tools and skills to take the game to the next level, with a crash course in understanding tech development projects! I’ve grown from a consultant to a business-woman without even realising that would happen! I’ve experienced massive growth outside work at the same time, which has massively impacted on what I’ve been able to do this year.”
It’s been a personally challenging year for Emma in other ways. In addition to developing her business, Emma took on responsibility for her teenage niece after her sister very sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in October 2020. Emma said, “It’s been the most phenomenal challenge that unfolded alongside winning the award. I’ve discovered resilience but also my absolute limits with regards to how hard I can push myself. I can also now see the stark difference between having a career without children when you have complete freedom to then seeing the limited choices you get presented with if you’re running a family too. Being a parent definitely affects what you can achieve within your business.”
Support and Advice
Of support she has received from other award winners and the programme, Emma says, “Befriending the other women in the cohort has been outstanding – I have to keep pinching myself to believe they are my peers as they are an amazing array of wonderful people and I feel I’ve made some very solid friends along the way.”
The advice Emma gives to others is, “Embrace every opportunity that comes your way – each learning experience, session with Innovation and Growth Specialists and cohort support as you never know where they will lead. Give generously of your own time too and you’ll be surprised at what you get back from the programme. It’s just been a truly awesome experience and I don’t want it to end!
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