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OKRA Technologies named best female-led European startup.

OKRA Technologies’ recognition shines a light on a number of trailblazing companies, and women. But more can be done to support their growth.

Turn on a news channel and the world seems a pretty desperate place. However the technology community in London can take solace in the fact that the VC community has gone all in. High profile firms including Passion Capital and Octopus Ventures have contributed to unprecedented levels of investment; in Q2 of 2018 6 of the biggest 10 deals in Europe were London-based. There is a level of financial commitment here that should see growth and investment continue.

However, one aspect of progress is still lacking. The number of female-led businesses across the tech sector remains low, and femtech generally is woefully represented. Anecdotal stories of women hiding pregnancies, or recruiting a male co-founder to secure investment are horrifying common.

But change is on the horizon. On the podcast I feel privileged to have interviewed Lina Chan (from Adia Health), Dr Hannah Allen, Ayumi Aoki (Women in Tech), Gemma Lloyd (Work180) and Helene Guillaume (Wild AI) to name just a few.

Another business to feature on the series recently was OKRA Technologies, and they have been recognised for their journey by being named as Europe’s best female-led startup at the StartUp Europe Awards. OKRA are focused on the healthtech market using AI-powered analytics to improve and save lives. Their CEO and founder Dr Loubna Bouarfa stated (upon receiving the award) that “AI is here and already having a great impact”.

AI is a key part of the market attracting investment, so it is fantastic to recognise a female-led business operating in this space. However, more can be done. Mustard Seed are at a vanguard of VC funds approaching the market differently, supporting inclusive, socially-conscious businesses. I can only hope that other funds follow this example and more female-led startups are given the support to thrive. These are small but necessary steps to a properly diverse and thriving sector.

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