This year, World Intellectual Property Day celebrates talented female inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs, and their contributions to improving our lives. Women in all regions are shaping the world through their imagination, ingenuity and hard work, but often face significant challenges in accessing the knowledge, skills, resources and support they need to thrive.

As part of our celebration of the day, we reached out to some of the women inventors and entrepreneurs we work with to find out more about their business, the importance of IP in the growth of the business and whether they have been able to find a community of women for support in their area.

Isabel Meenan, Patent Attorney, interviewed Anne Shanks, director of Agri-Web, a specialist manufacturer of rubber grading screens, web covers and sizing screens for distributors worldwide.

What was the inspiration behind your business/invention?

Inspiration comes from knowing about the industry you work in. By being aware of the main concerns of your customers and the problems that they are trying to overcome, one can sometimes look for solutions from a fresh perspective.

What challenges did you overcome in driving your business/invention forwards?

The main challenge with a new product is gaining customer acceptance.  Only a small number of customers might be willing to take a chance on spending money on a new system or product where outcomes are unproven. It will take time and hard work to gain this acceptance, especially for a small company. It is important to look for customers from all sectors of your industry from machinery manufacturers down to end users.

How important has your Intellectual Property been in the growth of your business?

Our business was built on introducing new products made with different materials onto existing machinery in the market.

The protection offered by IP gave us the time to develop the product and gain a foothold in the market whilst keeping larger companies at bay. We were able to grow the business and eventually came to supply most of the machinery manufacturers in our industry. We now export into around twenty countries worldwide.

Have you been able to find a community of like-minded women, who are building businesses to improve lives, and do they provide support to you in your endeavours?

I am not aware of any like- minded women who are building businesses although I have not taken part in any business forums for women and I have never looked for a support group.  I think if you have an idea and believe in your own ability it is possible to succeed in business regardless of gender. Many women in business are proof of this across the full spectrum of industry.

Many thanks to Anne for taking the time to let us know more about her business and IP journey. We look forward to continuing to support her and her business.