Dr Chen Mao Davies, Anya CEO and founder, captured children’s attention with pictures and clip of visual effects from Disney and Marvel movies she worked on, as part of an event held to unveil her purple plaque at Kemble Primary School.
The purple plaque is Innovate UK’s twist on the blue plaques seen in the UK. They are being installed at schools across the country to recognise the achievements of some of the female innovators who have won its prestigious Women in Innovation Award.
Emma Morrogh-Ryan, Headteacher of Kemble Primary School, said: “As they say, you can’t be what you can’t see, and this plaque is a reminder to everyone at our school of what they can achieve if they set their mind to it. As the parent of a current pupil, we’re delighted to recognise Chen’s success, and are excited to follow what comes next.” Chen told children at a special whole school assembly how she came to the UK in 2002 with two suitcases, little spoken English, and knowing no one. But she was armed with the courage and determination to succeed. She went from working on visual effects for blockbuster movies to tackling a public health issue, by founding Anya based on her own experiences of breastfeeding.
“Passion, resilience, and humility are important qualities during the innovation and entrepreneurship journey. I want to be a role model for inspiring others to follow their passion, break barriers, and use their expertise and creativity in business innovation. Representation matters; I want to offer a new face which other young people can identify with and look up to,” said Chen.
Chen then visited Year 5 & 6 to answer insightful questions ranging from: “What subjects do you need to study to learn visual effects?” and “What was the hardest stage in building your app?” to “What were the biggest challenges working in film and is it similar to starting your own company?”
The event was attended by Jenny Poole (Deputy Chief Executive) and Paul James (Economic Development Lead) from the Cotswold County Council, and Emily Nott (Head of Diversity and Inclusion) from Innovate UK.
“LatchAid is a great example of the many innovative businesses we have in the Cotswold District. I’m sure Chen’s story will inspire not only the pupils at Kemble Primary School, but also others who learn about what she has achieved,” said Councillor Tony Dale, Cabinet Member for Economy and Transformation, Cotswold District Council.
Chen won the Women in Innovation Award in 2020 with her award-winning app Anya, which provides 24/7 breastfeeding and parenthood support using pioneering LatchAid 3D interactive and Artificial Intelligence technology. The Award also sees recipients receive a cash injection of £50,000 and bespoke mentoring to scale up and bring to market their pioneering business ideas.