Department alumna receives purple plaque for winning Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award

Friday, May 24, 2024

Category: News

The Department of Education hosted an event to celebrate former MSc student, Sara Berkai, who has received the prestigious Women in Innovation Award from Innovate UK, by unveiling a purple plaque in her honour at the Department.  

Sara Berkai completed the MSc Child Development in 2021 and set up ‘Ambessa Play’, a global social enterprise that encourages young children to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through play. Sara designs educational kits such as DIY torches that ignite curiosity, creativity, and confidence. Ambessa Play works on a one-for-one model, where for each DIY kit purchased, an out-of-school refugee child receives one for free.

In addition to the purple plaque, Sara has received a £50,000 grant and one-to-one mentoring to scale up her business further.

Sara said: “It’s been an honour to win the Women in Innovation Award and it has helped us scale up Ambessa Play even further. Our mission is to encourage children to have early STEM opportunities regardless of their backgrounds. I’d particularly like to thank my professors and supervisors at the Department of Education who transformed my understanding of child development.”

Emily Nott, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programmes at Innovate UK said: “The Purple Plaque initiative is all about celebrating and recognising our brilliant Women in Innovation Award winners. We want these plaques to be a lasting legacy at the places where they are hosted, to hopefully spark conversations around the contributions of women in innovation around the UK.”

Sara is now part of a network of over 200 Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award winners who are developing inspiring solutions to pressing societal, environmental, and economic challenges.