New global network for innovative women is masterminded in the North East 

A regional innovation leader has founded a new global network for women in innovation.

Catherine Johns, innovation and business growth director for Business Durham, launched Women in IASP (International Association of Science Parks) at this year’s IASP World Conference in Moscow.

Catherine started developing the idea of creating a female-focused subnetwork for the IASP after chatting with a female Iranian science park director, while representing the North East Technology Park (NETPark) as last year’s conference.

Catherine said: “I started to think how we could build on links made at the conferences and events in a sustained way and how the women in the IASP network and the science park industry could help each other.

“We knew that many members already informally mentored each other but Women in IASP will bring together that knowledge base and share success stories for the benefi­t of all our members. It will help us hear the voices of women in IASP, and support them to achieve their professional goals, to the benefi­t of the science parks and areas of innovation where they work.”

Women in IASP currently comprises women from 24 different countries and will engage in regular mentoring dedicated to debate and networking around innovation.

Jean-Francois Balducchi, who until recently was the president of IASP, said: “Since IASP’s creation more than 30 years ago, women have always played a key role in our different boards, yet their number and degree of recognition has been still far below the level they deserve. This is why I was very proud as president of IASP to support this smart initiative. This new global subnetwork will raise the visibility of women and help them in their professional development within innovation ecosystems. It will also bring more innovative value, brighter ideas and a refreshing energy to our network.”

Cllr Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, commented: “I’m delighted that this initiative has come from Durham and that, once again, Durham has shown itself to be creating and implementing innovative ideas at a global scale. At NETPark, we already have a global hub for cutting edge technology businesses so it’s fitting that we play a major role in encouraging a cutting edge group where women in the field can support each other and share best practice, as well as deservedly raising the profile of the outstanding work they do.”

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