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Digital entrepreneur and diversity champion receives Outstanding Alumni Award

13 Jul 2015

First Asian woman to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion returns to campus

Lopa Patel is a digital entrepreneur with a lifelong love of science and technology. An ardent evangelist for the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), she is a technology ambassador for STEMNET, which aims to encourage more girls to pursue careers in science, and is a former non-executive director of Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency).

Born in Kenya but raised in London, Lopa graduated in biochemistry in 1986. As a trainee at ICI, it didn’t take long for her natural flair for enterprise to come to the fore. When one of the company’s marketing suppliers went into liquidation, Lopa stepped in and bought the company, creating her first business, DMS Direct, to supply promotional products to her former employer.

It was to be the first of several successful business ventures over the next two decades. This includes four online media channels, the most high profile being Redhotcurry.com, the leading south Asian lifestyle website, and e-commerce venture TheRedhotshop.com.

Lopa is passionate about promoting skills, education and training. She has committed enormous time and effort to help educate, encourage and develop the next generation of business owners and innovators in the UK, particularly among women and minority groups.

Made an MBE for services to the creative industries in 2009, in April 2015 she became the first Asian woman to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

She is the founder and CEO of equality and inclusion think tank Diversity UK; deputy chair of global volunteering initiative Sewa Day; a non-executive director of EMBG (Ethnic Minority Business Group) and a trustee of educational charity Raha International.