Eastbourne-based founder of digital platform helping those with cancer named Entrepreneur of the Year

Avril Chester
Avril Chester

The founder of a community interest company to support those affected by cancer has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women in IT Awards

Avril Chester's pioneering approach was recognised at the awards which were held at Grosvenor House in London.

Avril said: “Words cannot express how grateful I am. Thank you to everyone who believed in me, who listened, who cominovated, who made Cancer Central’s first iteration site a reality. This award is for all of us.”

Cancer Central is a brand-new digital platform created to provide those affected by cancer with the help and support they need during their cancer journey. Though still in its infancy, Cancer Central is built on an intelligent AI chat platform (nicknamed ‘Ave’) powered by IBM Watson. The platform combines a database with an innovative conversational search engine to connect people to the products, services and products, when and where they need them.

“There was no one, centralised place that signposted to everything we or those close to us would likely need,” Avril explained. “Even if we knew what we were looking for, there were products and support we didn’t know existed and therefore never found. I couldn’t help thinking that going through cancer was difficult enough without having to do hours and hours of research”.

“Delivering relevant, targeted, personalised support has always been central to our vision. But for that, we need data.” she continues "The challenge now is finding all the incredible businesses and charities who support individuals affected by cancer and asking them to register on Cancer Central so that we can signpost to them in time need."

Cancer Central has partnered with leading corporates and some of the sharpest minds in the tech start up community to help bring Avril’s vision to life. All in all, this pioneering ‘Human Open Source Model’, called cominovation, has seen companies donate more than 10,000 hours to the project, from 100+ individuals and 20+ organisations with major contributions from TechFINUM and ROQ.

Avril, founded the company in 2018 after surviving breast cancer. The company’s goal is to be a leader in the social impact business space with thanks to their pioneering approach, cominovation. Established as a community interest company, Cancer Central is committed to reinvesting at least 65% of its profits, and places collaboration and partnerships at the heart of its growth strategy. Their vision is to create a comprehensive and personalised digital directory by connecting best of breed technology that services everyone affected by cancer in the UK by location and cancer type. You can follow on @CancerCentralUK on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. #HelpisHere www.cancercentral.org.uk

Cancer Central is looking for social impact investment to help fund the next phase.