ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish woman has become the first to be recognized among eight other women as one of the UK’s top female innovators as part of International Women’s Day.
Dr. Fanya Ismail, who reportedly left the Kurdistan Region in 1995 for the UK, was awarded a purple plaque after becoming one of the winners of the 2019 Women in Innovation Awards, which were launched last year.
The plaque and title aim to “celebrate the achievements of pioneering female inventors” after a “nationwide search” by the British government. Ismail was celebrated for her work in helping reduce waste, particularly plastic coffee cups, which can be hard to recycle.
Through her work with her Gillingham-based chemistry company, Sol-Gel Coatings & Advanced Materials, Ismail invented an environmentally-friendly material to be used in coffee cups. She developed a chemical process called ‘sol-gel’ which produces a waterproof coating to disposable coffee cups, eliminating the need for plastic.
As a winner, she was granted £50,000 (roughly USD 65,000) to develop and grow her business. The funding was awarded on Friday as part of International Women's Day.
Ahead of the event, Ismail met with Prime Minister Theresa May, tweeting the next day about the award.
It is with great honour to announce that I am one of the nine women innovators to have the title of Women in Innovation 2019.— Fanya Ismail (@FanyaIsmail) March 8, 2019
We had the pleasure of meeting the Prime Minster yesterday and look forward to the bright future In store for @SolGelSGMA . #WomenInnovate #IWDay2019 https://t.co/HI0QsO3XR4
Having studied chemistry in the Kurdistan Region, Ismail then earned her Masters and Ph.D. at the University of Manchester.
“Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Awards address a key barrier for diversity in innovation - a lack of female role models. By recognizing their achievement with purple plaques, we are making sure that our nine newly crowned winners inspire the next generation of female innovators,” Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr. Ian Campbell said on Friday.