Daniela Paredes Fuentes, founder of 3D modelling tool Gravity Sketch, has been awarded £50,000 from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board Innovate UK as part of its Women in Innovation Awards 2019. Fuentes is one of nine women recognized in the awards, which grants funding and support to the UK’s most innovative female-led businesses with global potential.
Gravity Sketch is a design software that allows users to sketch in a 3D space using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). With the software, users can draft concepts and create models for 3D printing and other uses straight into the 3D software, offering a physical approach to design.
Regarding the success of Gravity Sketch, Fuentes explained:
“It’s not just about making money. We’ve created a really interesting product. When you see it in the hands of people and it makes them excited and happy, and they tell you it’s game-changing – it’s about that. We’re always thinking: what’s next? How can we do it better?”
Realizing ideas with 3D sketching
Fuentes co-founded Gravity Sketch with Oluwaseyi Sosanya and other students of The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, on Imperial’s Innovation Design Engineering programme. The founders connected over a mutual interest in the use of spatial intelligence for conceptual design. Subsequently, the team developed a 3D creation tool, which later evolved into Gravity Sketch.
“Developing the software was a team effort. We worked on it through our master’s degree final project at RCA,” explains Fuentes. “My team said, ‘okay – we’re in an academic environment, we’re safe – let’s explore, go as crazy as possible and really challenge the topic we want to study’. Our goal at the time was to be creative.”
The design software targets multiple sectors including automotive, concept arts and education. However, over the next five years Fuentes hopes to expand the product range of Gravity Sketch to target new sectors, along with developing the products flexibility for more creative workflows. Ultimately, Fuentes sees Gravity Sketch as a tool for innovation:
“Some people are ashamed of sketching. Our education system seems to have built us like that. It’s either you’re a Da Vinci, or you don’t draw. There are so many great ideas stuck in people’s heads. Maybe they haven’t evolved to become great ideas because the tools aren’t there yet.”
“I want to provide the tools to help people push their creativity further.”
Boosting female entrepreneurs
The Women in Innovation Awards are part of an Innovate UK’s campaign to boost diversity and inclusion in business, encouraging female-led innovation and supporting women to achieve their business ambitions. Innovate UK launched the campaign in 2016 in response to research that revealed only 1 in 7 applications for Innovate UK support came from women.
The winners, who were announced on International Women’s Day 2019, are credited with ideas and inventions that could help solve the grand challenges we face as a society set out in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. Each of the winners receive £50,000 funding, plus business support.
Business Secretary Greg Clark, who announced the winners for 2019, said, “The winning women are developing pioneering innovations to tackle the grand challenges we face as a society, from a new paper coating to cut down single use plastic, to helping us train mechanics using simulators.”
Celebrating women in 3D printing
International Women’s Day 2019 saw people across the world celebrating women and their achievements. Fuentes joins a list of women excelling at the forefront of innovation in 3D technologies. Another example includes Mahmooda Sultana, a NASA scientist that recently received $2 million to develop 3D printed multisensor devices for space exploration. Harvard professor Jennifer Lewis has also led an award winning research team to make significant discoveries and innovations in 3D bioprinting. In 2016, Lewis and her group released groundbreaking research papers for the 3D printing of kidney and heart cells.
In order to increase the visibility of women’s roles within this sector, Nora Touré and Barabara Hanna set up Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP), and organization that hosts networking events and promotes the work of women in the industry.
Looking for a career in additive manufacturing? Visit 3D Printing Jobs for a selection of roles in the industry.
Featured image shows Daniela Paredes Fuentes using Gravity Sketch, a design software that allows designers to sketch in a 3D space using augmented reality. Image via Innovate UK.