Glasgow entrepreneur launches lone worker safety alarms

Rebecca Pick, the entrepreneur behind personal safety alarm start-up Pick Protection, today launched her first devices after raising almost £1 million to take them to market.

Rebecca Pick, founder and chief executive of Glasgow-based Pick Protection. Picture: Contributed
Rebecca Pick, founder and chief executive of Glasgow-based Pick Protection. Picture: Contributed

Pick, a graduate of the University of Strathclyde Business School, set up her firm, which has secured backing from manufacturer Unipart, after a neighbour was attacked.

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“I believe that everyone should feel safe at work,” said Pick, who is targeting the products at the eight million people in the UK who work alone or without direct supervision.

She added: “The inspiration behind Pick Protection may not have been work related – my neighbour at university was attacked and nobody came to help – but after a lot of market research, we have decided to focus the business on lone worker protection.”

The devices will be monitored by Unipart Security’s alarm receiving centre in Oxford, where staff can confirm whether an emergency is happening and provide police with the user’s location.

Unipart chairman and chief executive John Neill said: “We are delighted to be able to support and invest in a young start-up company led by Rebecca. She is exactly the kind of energetic entrepreneur that our country needs to help us succeed in the fast-changing world of technology.”

Today’s launch came as a new report found that growth in the number of new female entrepreneurs in the UK has outstripped that of their male counterparts in the last decade.

According to research from the University of Strathclyde and Aston University, using data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the proportion of women that went into business rose by 45 per cent between 2003-6 and 2013-16, compared to just 27 per cent among men.

However, it also found that men are still nearly twice as likely to be entrepreneurs, at 10.4 per cent versus 5.5 per cent of women.

The study also revealed that while the UK rate of entrepreneurs of 8.8 per cent confirms it as the start-up capital of Europe, large regional disparities exist when it comes to this “enterprise gap”.

The proportion of women early-stage entrepreneurs north of the Border grew from an average of 3.2 per cent of working-age women in 2003 to 2006 to 5.4 per cent in 2013 to 2016, bringing the Scottish rate into line with the UK average of 5.5 per cent.

Additionally, Scotland now ranks as the third-highest region in the UK in terms of gender parity for entrepreneurship, with 64 early-stage female entrepreneurs for every 100 males.

Across both sexes, the 2016 UK early-stage entrepreneurship rate was significantly higher than 2015, and again exceeded the previous long-run rate of around 6 per cent that prevailed until 2010.

Jonathan Levie of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School, said: “This rise in female early-stage entrepreneurship in Scotland to a level that matches the average across the UK confirms what people in Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem have been seeing in recent years – the emergence of a new generation of women entrepreneurs.”

Margot James, minister for small business, consumers and corporate responsibility, said: “The UK remains among the best places in Europe to start a business, but we must continue working to ensure that this positive trend continues.

“From reducing corporation tax rates to providing £3.4 billion in finance through the British Business Bank, we know small business support is key to building a strong and thriving economy.”

The study also said the advanced economy with the highest absolute rate of female early-stage entrepreneurs was Canada, at 11.6 per cent.