Anya baby & breastfeeding app logo - a lower case letter a with a baby's face with a tuft of hair with the word anya in lower case to the right

Women in Innovation 2021 award winner

December 15, 2022

New pioneer of motherhood and breastfeeding app set to receive further support from Innovate UK EDGE to grow her business.

New pioneer of motherhood and breastfeeding app set to receive further support from Innovate UK EDGE to grow her business.

Since arriving in the UK from China 18 years ago, Dr. Chen Mao Davies has learned to speak fluent English, created new CGI technologies for Oscar and BAFTA winning films, become a mother, and now launched her own business.

On International Women’s Day 2021, she was awarded an Innovate UK Women in Innovation Award, one of only 10 nationwide awards out of 750+ applicants.
Chen’s business, LatchAid Ltd. and the Anya app, were born out of her own struggles as a new mum.

“I was determined to breastfeed my child,” says Chen, “it’s natural, it’s bonding, it gives the baby antibodies, but nobody told me how difficult and painful it could be.

“Midwives are under huge pressure and sadly, don’t always have the resources to provide one-to-one breastfeeding guidance throughout a mother’s stay in hospital. By the time I left hospital, I was already damaged and in pain.”

“It went on for days with mastitis and thrush; mum and baby crying during feeding time and I just felt such a failure – I couldn’t feed my own baby. The baby’s weight dropped, and I developed postnatal depression.”

Chen pulled through with the help of an understanding health visitor and other mums who had suffered similar experiences – some of whom still carry regrets years later.

“As a technologist, I was frankly shocked by the lack of innovation in this space. We had once a week peer support groups, which were useful – but what about 2am when you’re lonely, in pain and at your lowest point?”

Innovate UK EDGE Innovation and Growth Specialist, Kathryn Green, persuaded her to take up the opportunity and together with grant funding expert Kim Howat, provided critical appraisal of her application.

“I knew the pass rate would be even lower than normal Innovate UK competitions, so Kathryn and Kim’s support was really important. They helped me make my application as simple, persuasive, compliant and powerful as possible – their advice really helped refresh my knowledge of how to write a grant application.”

Having won the award, Chen received a £50,000 grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and innovation and growth support.

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