International Women’s Day: meeting our co-founder Louise Cahill RN

As one of the original Co-Founders of LiberEat, not only is Louise Cahill a technology innovator working to make food easier for those with dietary requirements, but she is also a busy nurse working at the front-line of the NHS. Louise has spent much of 2020 and 2021 changing (and saving) lives as the Clinical Coordinator of a COVID-19 vaccination centre in Newport, Wales – one of the most crucial jobs in the country. 

Louise told the Royal College of Nursing that running the vaccination centre is “a lot of responsibility but I really enjoy it. The team I work with is fantastic. It feels monumental and when you’re working in operations, you realise what a massive challenge this is.”

Lousie teamed up with Barry Leaper in 2016 to found LiberEat as she was finding adjusting to life with dietary requirements difficult. Barry’s mother and wife had similar struggles when eating out and he agreed with Louise that there was an opportunity here to make a difference to people’s lives. Joining the health-tech industry was a whole new world for Louise who says “I had worked as a research assistant for an energy company before retraining as a Nurse but starting a business was an even bigger challenge. It was a real eye-opener because you don’t always get the freedom or time to be creative when you are working in Healthcare.”

"My proudest moment since founding LiberEat was working during the pandemic, being able to use my skills and knowledge to help people in one of the most frightening times our generation has seen"

Louise says that “Funding is the most prohibitive thing for most people trying to get involved in HealthTech” but she would encourage anyone working on the Healthcare frontline to get involved in HealthTech because their experiences are invaluable: “There are a lot of people who have great ideas for HealthTech, but haven’t worked in healthcare so don’t know about the reality of industry specific challenges. I would encourage front-line workers to get more involved in the tech we use because we are the ones using it. The front line workers are often the ones who see where the opportunity is but there needs to be more cross-industry collaboration.” 

Louise administering a vaccination to a patient at the Newport Mass Vaccination clinic

Tech Nation reports that only 22% of Tech Directors in the UK are Women and Louise has also encountered institutional sexism working in healthcare, saying that “Getting listened to as a Nurse is often an issue because health-care politics is massively wrapped up in gender. And nursing is sometimes forgotten as a STEM profession. It is the only STEM profession dominated by women, and it is the only STEM profession which is debated as to whether it really is a STEM profession. We study and implement engineering, anatomy, physiology, microbiology – that is STEM.” 

“I was always very entrepreneurial when I was younger, always trying to problem solve, but no one pushed me into STEM because I was a girl. I think anyone who has an interest in STEM or healthcare should definitely consider it and not be afraid to get involved.” 

Louise is still working in the front-line, and the quotes in this article were taken during a break in her busy schedule. You can read about Louise’s work as the clinical coordinator here and read more about diversity in UK Tech here. To read about nursing as a STEM profession read here

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