Women In Innovation Success Stories: Jacqueline Morrison, Cedeco Contractors, Scotland
Women In Innovation Awardee Jacqueline Morrison is developing innovative solutions to support the offshore wind sector through her mechanical alternative to grout. With her novel approach, she is looking to break the ‘it’s always done this way’ mindset.
Jacqueline Morrison is developing innovative solutions to support the offshore wind sector through her mechanical alternative to grout. She is looking to break the ‘it’s always done this way’ mindset with her novel approach. The innovation aims to cut the time and cost of installing jacket foundations, and Innovate UK’s Women In Innovation Award enables Jacqueline to use Cedeco’s existing Intellectual Property (IP) in a new way.
Developing the business
When Jacqueline joined the Women in Innovation programme in March 2021, Cedeco’s technology was in the early stage of development. They had spent the previous year working on an Innovate UK SMART grant with industry collaborators and had shown the technology to be feasible. The next stage was to move the technology into a laboratory setting for small scale testing. Jaqueline said: “Our business model is to eventually licence the IP behind the technology, and I applied to the Women in Innovation programme to help with the commercialisation process.”
Learning from failures
Jacqueline readily admits that some of their key milestones were failures. She said: “We failed to secure our next application to Innovate UK Smart Grants, and let’s just say, well, the result ‘smarted’! It was devastating but proved important because it showed that despite a major setback, it is possible to keep going.”
Over the next year, they managed to progress the technology, develop new relationships with industrial and academic partners and secured alternative funding. They went on to win the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s ‘Energy Entrepreneur Funding’, and in spring 2022, Jacqueline will be visiting Taiwan as part of an Innovate UK Global Innovation Programme.
Knowing the financial support from the grant is there has taken some of the pressure off, so Jacqueline knows that when the time comes to start putting in place some of the more commercially focused agreements, the funding is there to support that work.
Personal development has been key for Jacqueline, she said: “I’d say the outcomes for me have been more to do with extending my comfort zones. I focused on developing my pitching skills and I am now a lot more comfortable pitching for investment. I have taken my first steps towards becoming a mentor and joined ‘Women on Boards’, applying for my first external board role (my application was unsuccessful, but I am undeterred).” Dealing with failure has been another area of personal growth and “trying not to see things as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they just are,” said Jacqueline. “We didn’t secure one round of grant funding, and yes it was devastating, but we secured different funding and in the intervening period, we changed direction ever so slightly. I believe we’ll end up in a stronger position because of it,” she continued.
The focus for the next 12 months will be to continue developing the engineering behind their device, while pulling together the industry partners that will be needed to bring the product to market. The medium term should see them reaching profitable sales of the device.
Challenges and benefits
Like many parents, the challenge that Jacqueline faces is working around her children, but on the other hand this also gives her the flexibility to focus on them and the business in a way that she wouldn’t if she worked in a more traditional role.
“Most beneficial have been the bootcamps, especially hearing the updates from the other cohort members,” said Jacqueline. “It makes you realise that although we are in different industries, the challenges we face (usually around money and business relationships) are pretty much the same,” she continued.”
To future winners, she adds: “Say yes to everything that comes up and learn to get comfortable with saying ‘I’m an Innovate UK Women in Innovation award winner’.”
Women in Innovation
Innovate UK’s Women In Innovation programme consists of funding competitions and events that enables brilliant women to fully achieve their visions and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation.