Female entrepreneurs could win a share of a £400,000 government award by putting forward their ideas to tackle the challenges facing Britain’s industrial strategy.

The competition offers eight winners £50,000 in funding as well as a bespoke year-long package of mentoring, coaching and business support. It is being run by Innovate UK, who operate under the umbrella of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.   

Among the challenges the government is hoping the award will help to solve are ensuring that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035 and using data, artificial intelligence and innovation to transform the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases by 2030.

The fresh support for female entrepreneurship comes after the launch of the Telegraph’s Women Mean Business campaign, which is calling on the Government to address the funding gap that exists between male and female entrepreneurs in the UK.

Since then, the Treasury has opened its first ever serious review into the problems facing female entrepreneurs and Theresa May set up a Downing Street Committee to ensure all policy developed by the Government considers the impact on women and focuses on increasing their role in politics, business and society as a whole.

The £400,000 prize pot for the competition has already attracted over 250 applications in two weeks, with the entries open until October 3.

“We’re more determined than ever to support women who have the potential to be the UK’s next successful business innovators,” said Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK.

“These awards are about helping to close the innovation diversity gap, while at the same time bringing new ideas to tackle the big challenges set out in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.”

Key aims of that strategy include supporting people to remain at work for longer, building markets for consumer products and services that better meet the needs of older people and driving improvements in public health and innovations across the social care sector.

“We will harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society,” said a spokesperson for Innovate UK.

“The UK population is ageing, as it is across the industrialised world. The prospect of longer lives will require people to plan their careers and retirement differently.

“Ageing populations will create new demands for technologies, products and services, including new care technologies, new housing models and innovative savings products for retirement. We have an obligation to help our older citizens lead independent, fulfilled lives, continuing to contribute to society.

“If we succeed, we will create an economy which works for everyone, regardless of age.”

According to the government, people in the UK are living longer because of medical advances, better drugs, healthier lifestyles, and safer workplaces. A girl born today has a 1 in 3 chance of living to 100, and the chance of living to 100 will double in the next 50 years.

It is hoped that if people are able to live healthily for longer, that they will remain independent, continue to work and be more connected to their communities.

The other ‘Grand Challenges’ set out in the BEIS Policy Paper from May this year include at least halving the energy use of new buildings by 2030 and putting the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles, with all new cars and vans effectively zero emission by 2040.

A previous beneficiary of Innovate UK is Shakar Jafari. Inspired by her father, and with support from the group, she founded Trueinvivo Limited and has developed a radiation detection system for cancer care that aims to save lives, money and offer a better quality of life to patients.

Original article: The Telegraph