Our Alumnus of the Year Award has been presented annually since 2002. They recognise Essex graduates who are relatively new to their careers, but are already having a substantial impact.
Our hope is award winners will inspire you to start making a difference straight away – why wait?
The 2022 winner has certainly not hung around when looking to pave the way to better healthcare for women.
Chantelle Bell is co-founder of Syrona Health, a women’s healthcare company focused on empowering women to monitor their gynaecological health at home.
Chantelle studied for her first degree in the School of Biological Sciences (now School of Life Sciences), at the University of Essex, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics in 2016.
After that, she pursued a Masters in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Cambridge. It was during this time that she started to bring together her interests in healthcare and technology. She realised the applicability of technology to improve patients’ lives whether it be for diagnosis, treatment or long-term care.
She went on to work in Philips, working in digital healthcare and consulting, before co-founding Syrona Health, along with fellow Cambridge graduate Anya Roy.
Once Chantelle and Anya realised that at-home testing could one day save millions of lives, they developed a personal testing kit so women could monitor themselves for STDs, endometriosis, and cervical cancer and, as a result, get diagnosed faster.
Syrona Health is best known for this ground-breaking work to develop a pregnancy-test like device allowing for home cervical cancer tests. Through its app and blog, Syrona educates women about their bodies, focusing on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, endometriosis and fertility issues. It is currently available in the UK, Ireland and the USA but there are plans to expand to new countries. It can also be accessed as a sole user through the app store.
Syrona Health, best described as a health-tech company, is based in London. It aims to support people through chronic conditions such as endometriosis with symptom tracking, insights, community and a curated shop with service and products.
Chantelle’s work has not gone unnoticed. She has been recognised in Forbes “Top 50 women in tech for Europe” and Financial Times “Top 100 minority leaders in technology”.
And even though it is a young company, Syrona Health has already won awards from bodies including AccelerateHER Scotland, Tata and Bethnal Green Ventures. Chantelle and Anya have led talks at Cambridge Wireless UK and the prestigious MEDICA conference in Dusseldorf, Germany. Their startup has already raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to date.
Although Chantelle graduated just five years ago, she is already transforming the future of women's health. She is a leading example of Essex graduates fighting for positive change to issues lacking visibility in society – she is showing her true Essex Spirit.
Chantelle is a firm supporter of the global Women in Tech movement. She believes the visibility of women in tech is very much needed to show the next generation that they’re not alone and it is possible.
In her words: “When looking at the statistics on the types of company’s women in tech are likely to build, it’s usually something geared toward solving real-world problems like healthcare and accessibility and that’s exciting. We can really change the world”.
Helping people through science and technology is what Chantelle does best. She is a great example of determination and leadership for the next generation of girls who are thinking about a career in STEM-related fields. She is a true inspiration.
We are delighted today to award Chantelle with our Alumna of the Year Award for her insight, dedication, and for her ground-breaking services to improve women’s health.